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Russia: Lebed Talks Of Building Political Party

Washington, 25 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Former Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed says he intends to create a business-oriented political party.

Lebed made the comment Friday near the end of a trip to the United States. The former presidential candidate, fired last month by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, was speaking in Washington before the U.S.-Russia Business Council.

"I need to meet again with professionals in party construction, to listen to analysts and experts, to determine definitively the distribution of political forces in Russia, and to begin serious party-building," he said.

Lebed also told the council he believes the ceasefire he brokered in Chechnya "broke the backbone of the war" and that he could now give "a 99 percent guarantee that war will not resume there."

Lebed reiterated his opposition to the eastward expansion of NATO to Russia's former Warsaw pact allies, but said he would not "have a hysterical fit" if it happens.

The U.S. Defense Department disclosed that Lebed met last Wednesday with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the two agreed on the importance of good working relations between Russia and the United States