Russian President Boris Yeltsin's alliance with Aleksandr Lebed - shaky from the beginning - deteriorated as Lebed sparred with supporters of tough military action in Chechnya and took up the cause of disgruntled military officers and servicemen. Lebed's ouster in mid-October seemed designed to remove the increasingly popular ex-general from public view, but whether it ultimately helps or hurts Lebed's political career depends on how long Yeltsin -- and the current balance of power under him - can last

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