Alexander Lebed

Russian general (1950-2002)

Alexander Ivanovich Lebed (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Ле́бедь; 20 April 195028 April 2002) was a Soviet and Russian military officer and politician who held senior positions in the Russian Airborne Troops before running for president in the 1996 Russian presidential election. He did not win, but placed third behind incumbent Boris Yeltsin and the Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, with roughly 14% of the vote nation-wide. Lebed later served as the Secretary of the Security Council in the Yeltsin administration, and eventually became the governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, the second largest Russian region. He served four years in the latter position, until his death in a helicopter crash in 2002.

Alexander Lebed in 1996


  • It is up to the state to do it, but there has been nothing but talk and wishful thinking. It's like the tale of the emperor's new clothes. Everyone acted as if the emperor were dressed, until a small boy said he was naked. This is where we stand with reform.
  • No commander can know everything. He must rely on deputies, competent in the narrow areas assigned them. His responsibility is to make sure none of them tugs the blanket to one side of the bed. A deputy who answers 'yes, sir' to every stupid thing his commander says can get his boss into serious trouble. He must have the courage to take a stand and be able to defend it.
  • In a normal civilized society, you would have to force the army into politics with a stick. They should not be concerned with who is in power today, be it Czar, General Secretary or President. Presidents come and go, but the motherland always remains. We are not in a normal state.
  • I joined the armed forces 25 years ago and still love military service and want to carry on. But these are troubled times, when everything is so confused you can't tell military issues from political ones. So I do not rule out the possibility that I might be forced to it out of necessity. But I don't really want to. If I get carried away in this direction sometimes, it is only out of gloom and desperation, not because I have some overwhelming desire to prove my political mettle.
  • Only in the constitutional way. I've had more than my share of war and have come to the conclusion that it doesn't resolve anything. Even the longest wars, lasting a hundred years, still end in peace talks. So why not talk right away and cut out the military fighting stage? There can't be a victor in the kinds of war they are waging now in the former Soviet Union, only throngs of defeated.
  • We have received reliable information from the ground in Chechnya that people there are planning the physical annihilation of Gen. Aleksandr Lebed. These are people who do not want the negotiating process in Chechnya to proceed. We do not believe that it is necessarily the Chechens who plan this action. It is not the first time there have been threats like this. It will have no effect on the work before us.
  • If Russia and NATO cooperate, who are they going to be against? There used to be two systems, two military blocs. One system collapsed. Its military bloc collapsed. And the other part remains in perfect operating order. That beautiful NATO bloc was first aimed at the Soviet Union, and it would be a pity to abandon it. So, now it is re-aimed at Russia.
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