Moscow, 28 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Aleksander Lebed, a veteran of Russia's war in Afghanistan and a former presidential candidate, died on Sunday in a helicopter crash in the southern Russian region of Krasnoyarsk, where he was the governor. Lebed, who was 52, perished with six others when their helicopter struck a high-voltage power line in bad weather during the morning. Thirteen people aboard the helicopter are in a local hospital with serious injuries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram with condolences. In his telegram Putin praised Lebed as a strong and courageous man who devoted his life to serving his homeland.
Lebed, a popular veteran of the Afghan campaign and negotiator during Russia's 1994-96 Chechen war, was once considered a possible successor to President Boris Yeltsin. He contested the first round of the 1996 presidential elections.