Kozyrev under threat from a family firm

PEOPLE

Andrei Kozyrev, the Russian Foreign Minister, is in for a double whammy in the campaign to keep his seat in the country's parliamentary elections in December. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader who regularly lays into the foreign minister for policies he says have eroded Russia's might, is fielding his sister Lyubov to contest Mr Kozyrev's Murmansk seat in the State Duma.

"She is an ordinary woman of Russia. She is 52 years old, an engineer, and she has had a simple, hard life," Mr Zhirinovsky said, adding that she had ''learned about international affairs through her own experiences''.

Her ever-helpful brother noted: ''There have been so many people killed abroad, so much blood shed, so much moral and financial damage done that my sister, if she were elected, could not be more harmful [than Mr Kozyrev].''

For the past 15 years, Narasimha Rao has been spending his nights with a computer. The brooding, uncharismatic prime minister of India, 73, has been tapping out "The Other Half", a semi-autobiographical political saga replete with colourful tales of intrigue, sex and power.

The first excerpts of Mr Rao's unfinished novel were revealed this week in a new Indian magazine, Outlook. "How tedious must seem those long hours explaining things to the Opposition when one would much rather create Love on a lap-top," the magazine said.

Mr Rao's view of politics in his book is not entirely favourable. "There comes a time when politics seem pointless even to a politician," he writes. "It holds no promise, brings no rewards, affords no satisfaction. On the other hand, it leaves you fretting under a relentless maligning blitz from all sides."

One character "perfected the art of mouthing his party's ideology endlessly, without believing a word of it. It worked very well and he found that by and large he was in identical company. No one gave a damn for beliefs." As Outlook put it: "If you're a writer at heart, liberalising the national economy must be a bit of a bore." Perhaps that's why Mr Rao took to his lap-top, churning out such passages as: "Their bodies, like strangers meeting for the first time, introduced themselves to each other. It was a process in which millions of pores, blood vessels and reflexes were in an all-out mutual comprehension."

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, to be awarded today, is a closely guarded secret. Speculation, however, has centred on the key figures in the Irish peace process, Albert Reynolds and John Hume, and on Bishop Samuel Ruiz in the Mexican state of Chiapas, whose nomination was supported by the purple thumb prints and X's of illiterate Chiapas Indians.

And, for the fifth time, there is Jimmy Carter, this time for his work in Haiti and Korea. Should he lose again, Mr Carter probably will take it well.

When he discussed the subject with the New York Times earlier this year, he said: "What if the Nobel were really the be-all and end-all of my existence? And what if it never happened? Which it probably won't ... But, what if that's what really mattered most and it never came about? Well, what sort of dried-up, shriveled-up, disappointed, frustrated old prune of a man would I be then? 'Poor ol' Jimmy Carter. He never got his prize.' ''

MARYANN BIRD

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