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News Briefs II

Former Yeltsin Bodyguard Wins Seat in Parliament

The Washington Post

Alexander Korzhakov, the hawkish former bodyguard who was feared as head of President Boris Yeltsin's security service until he was ousted last June, won a seat in the lower house of parliament Monday.

Although he will be just one of 450 members of the State Duma, Korzhakov's election was no small matter for the liberal Russian political elite, which reacted with dread to news of his victory.

Korzhakov won election over 10 other candidates with approximately 26 percent of the vote in Tula, a city south of Moscow, filling a vacancy left by Alexander Lebed, who became head of Yeltsin's security council until he was fired in October.

Korzhakov, 47, a one-time KGB major, had served as Yeltsin's bodyguard, confidant, and adviser for 11 years. He was not only chief of a large security apparatus that had para-military powers and lucrative sources of money, but also controlled access to his boss and was known to intervene on policy matters. He was part of a so-called "party of war" that urged Yeltsin to launch the disastrous war against separatists in Chechnya.

Korzhakov has hinted darkly that he possesses compromising materials on many of those in power - presumably materials he had gathered as chief of the presidential security service. So far, he has not disclosed the material.

But as a member of parliament, Korzhakov will enjoy immunity from prosecution. According to the Russian constitution, while a Duma deputy, he cannot be detained, arrested or searched unless in the act of committing a crime.

Due to Lack of Funds, Smithsonian Cuts Traveling Show

The Washington Post

The Smithsonian Institution announced Monday that it is curtailing the schedule of its enormously popular 150th-anniversary touring show because of a lack of funds.

"America's Smithsonian," believed to be the nation's largest-ever museum exhibition, has been put on hiatus until April. It was launched last February amid great fanfare and made stops in six cities, staying at least a month in each. In its first year, 2 million people saw the display; attendance ranged from an average of 15,000 a day in St. Paul, Minn., to 4,200 a day in New York City.

However, the project, one of the Smithsonian's first broad efforts to attract corporate sponsors, fell far short of its stated goal of raising $100 million from 10 donors. As a result, Smithsonian officials are asking interested cities to underwrite the installation costs for any future visits. Only those cities that come up with the estimated $4.2 million tab will see the show, which had been scheduled to run through the end of this year.

The traveling show contains 300 one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Smithsonian's vast holdings, including a sword belonging to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln's hat, Thomas Edison's light bulb, the Apollo 14 space capsule and the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz."