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Russia: Lebed Warns Of Dangerous Tensions In Army

Munich, 16 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Former Russian security adviser Alexander Lebed has said he believes there is a genuine danger that the Russian army could fall out of control and the nation break apart unless preventive measures are taken.

Lebed's comment was made in an interview with the prominent German newspaper, "Suddeutsche Zeitung," to be published tomorrow.

"I really believe that," he told the newspaper. "You should have seen with my eyes what I have seen in Chechnya. Then you would have no doubt. I know my country very well. Our people are very patient, but if their patience comes to an end serious things can happen."

The former security adviser, who was dismissed from his post by President Boris Yeltsin in October last year, is currently on a private visit to Germany sponsored by the German Foreign Policy Association.

Lebed said he would not allow the crisis he had described to come to pass. He was ready to act to prevent Russia from falling into an abyss.

Lebed was asked when and whether he hoped to replace President Yelstin. He replied he would do nothing to overthrow Yeltsin who had been elected by the people for a second term of office. But he also said Yeltsin was seriously ill and the situation in the country was worsening. He said several crises were developing. One must be prepared to negotiate in both political and economic matters.

Regarding NATO, Lebed told the newspaper he did not share the concerns of some others that the expansion of NATO would lead to the encirclement of Russia.

Asked if he, as president of Russia would accept the entry of Hungary or Poland into NATO, he said he would regard it as political stupidity. He would not consider it a ground for a new cold war or a cold peace.

"No, I would wait patiently," Lebed said. " I know that these three or four countries to which you refer would be the last which would be taken into NATO. Others would not follow."

He argued that expansion of NATO would lead to tensions which would break the Alliance apart. He argued that no all-European security system could be developed without Russia, which made up half of Europe and a sixth of the entire world.