Russia's Alexander Lebed made clear on Wednesday his new job as governor of a vast Siberian region had forced him to put his presidential ambitions on hold.
"I am not interested in the issue of the presidential election," the reserve general told a brief news conference after his first day in the Federation Council upper house of parliament, which comprises powerful regional chiefs."I have a region to raise to its feet," he added.
Last month, the 48-year-old Lebed, widely seen as a strong potential candidate in the next presidential polls due in 2000, won a gubernatorial election in the Krasnoyarsk region on a law and order ticket.
Political analysts say should Lebed decide to run in the presidential poll, the governorship could become a power base for the popular ex-paratroop commander.
"I don't know, perhaps I will not run for president at all," said Lebed, who had earlier declared such plans. "I will see how things go in my region."
On Wednesday, Lebed clearly moved to calm Kremlin fears that he might become a major trouble-maker in his new position.
"My policy will be stable, centrist and civilized," he told a news conference.
"Krasnoyarsk region occupies 14 percent of Russia's territory and is right in the heart of the country," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. "There may be no word about separatism or political extremism on my part."