Moscow, 28 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A spokesman has confirmed that Russia's former national security council secretary, Aleksandr Lebed, is preparing to launch a political party.
The spokesman, Alexander Barkhatov, told Interfax news agency today that Lebed is meeting businessmen and various politicians every day with the aim of forming his own party.
Lebed, a popular former paratroop general, finished a strong third in the first round of Russia's presidential race last summer. His showing was based on his personal popularity and his promises to root out corruption and restore law and order. He did not represent any organized political party.
He was appointed secretary of President Boris Yeltsin's security council in June, but lost the post a month ago in a Kremlin power struggle. He has made no secret of his presidential ambitions.
Barkhatov also said Lebed will decide "before mid-December" on whether to run for governor of the central Tula region 200 kilometers south of Moscow, where an election is planned for February. The governor's post would give Lebed a seat in the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, and secure for himself what observers say would be a highly visible political platform.