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Russia: Kulikov Accuses Lebed Of Plotting To Take Power By Force

Moscow, 16 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov made his sharpest attack against Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed today, publicly accusing him of plotting to take power by force.

Kulikov told a news conference in Moscow that Lebed planned a "mutiny" and had taken a "definite decision" to take power by force. Kulikov said he was issuing a "serious warning" and he called on "everyone to do what they have to do" to prevent a Lebed takeover.

There was no immediate reaction from Lebed. But Interfax quoted his press spokesman, Aleksandr Barkhatov, as saying Kulikov's accusations were "to say the least, not serious." Barkhatov also said Lebed had sent a letter requesting a vacation to President Boris Yeltsin. He said Yeltsin had not yet responded.

Kulikov accused Lebed of seeking to create his own elite military force numbering up to 50,000 fighters. Kulikov said Lebed was planning to go on vacation soon to prepare a mutiny. He said he had written proof to back up his accusations and he told reporters these had now been passed on to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The accusations come a day after Lebed told the State Duma that he blamed Kulikov for prolonging the Chechen war.