Russian Leader Killed in Crash

 - October 9, 2007, 8:50 AM

Alexander Lebed, a once-powerful Russian politician, was killed April 29 when the Russian-made Mil Mi-8 helicopter in which he and 19 others were traveling smashed into a snowy Siberian hillside not far from the town of Abakan in the vast Siberian province of Krasnoyarsk, where Lebed was governor. The crash, which killed eight, among them three journalists and the region’s deputy governor, took place in thick fog. The helicopter is thought to have hit ice-covered power lines. Both the rotorcraft’s flight-data and voice recorders have been recovered and are undergoing analysis in Moscow. Lebed, a 52-year-old former army general who helped defeat the 1991 hard-line Soviet coup and came in third in Russia’s 1996 presidential elections, was one of Russia’s most prominent politicians in the last decade. He ran for, and won, the office of Krasnoyarsk governor in 1998. Lebed and his party were returning from the grand opening of a new ski resort in Siberia.