Tough-talking reserve general and Siberian governor Alexander Lebed on Thursday criticized Russia's current leaders and called for a swift change of government, but only by democratic means.
"A change of power is imminent . . . (But) we do not have the right to (set up) barricades - we have spilled enough blood in the past," Lebed said in televised remarks.Lebed was addressing a conference of his Russian Popular-Republican Party in Krasnoyarsk, capital of his region. Lebed must now step down as leader of the party following his victory in the May election to become governor of Krasnoyarsk.
He said his party and another associated movement, Pride and Motherland, wanted to gain power in Russia "on the basis of people's common sense, not through bayonets."
He reiterated that his party would campaign actively in the next election for the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, due in December 1999.
Interfax news agency also quoted Lebed as saying President Boris Yeltsin's administration had to go. He criticized its handling of Russia's economy, especially taxation, saying it was harming both companies and the public.
Lebed's remarks come at a time of acute financial crisis that has forced Yeltsin and his government to seek a foreign loan bailout worth $22.6 billion over two years.
Lebed said Monday he might run for the presidency in 2000 if Russia's economic situation worsens.