Lebed claims Clinton backing

With doubts surrounding Boris Yeltsin's future, Alexander Lebed (above) believes that he has already acquired evidence of official recognition in Washington - a treasured invitation to Monday's swearing-in of Bill Clinton, from none other than the US President himself.

His claim caused forrowed brows in the White House, which is denying that the self-styled president-in-waiting is a guest of the United States. Confusion surrounded Mr Lebed's claim, but he may have been invited by an individual member of Congress.

The US - with a weather eye to the future - has chosen its words carefully. Asked what it would do if Mr Lebed attends, Mike McCurry, White House spokesman, said Mr Clinton "will not be embarrassed and would not be offended". He added: "It would strike him as curious, but he is not in control of the people who are awarded tickets to the ceremony."