People: Kerrigan tarnishes her silver image

HAS the shining image of Nancy Kerrigan begun to tarnish since she won a silver medal in the Olympic figure-skating competition? She left Norway before the closing ceremony of the Winter Games, called her own performance flawless, criticised the judging and made other less-than-gracious comments in the last week. The latest flap occurred when Kerrigan was heard in recorded remarks at a Disney World parade in Florida, saying: 'This is so corny. This is so dumb. I hate it. This is the most corny thing I've ever done.'

She wasn't talking about sitting next to Mickey Mouse, she told reporters later, but about her mother's insistence that she wear her silver medal.

Kerrigan has signed a deal with Disney giving the company book and film rights to her life, and agreeing to make personal appearances.

Last Friday, as the winning figure-skaters waited for their medal ceremony to begin, Kerrigan was mistakenly told that the delay was caused by Oksana Baiul, the gold medallist, redoing her make-up. Microphones then picked up an annoyed Kerrigan saying: 'Oh, come on. So she's going to get out here and cry again. What's the difference?' The comment was a reference to the Ukrainian's victory tears. Kerrigan's spin: 'I was afraid the crowd was losing its enthusiasm and was starting to leave. It was not meant as a slight toward Oksana.'

A Disney spokesman denied that Kerrigan's image had been tainted, noting: 'Nancy Kerrigan is not perfect. The Walt Disney company doesn't associate with people who are perfect.' Snow White was unavailable for comment.

ALSO ungraciously raking in the bucks are the hard- line leaders who were freed from a Moscow prison last weekend under a parliamentary amnesty. They have joined a growing list of Russian politicians demanding money for interviews, and are asking dollars 500 to dollars 1,000 ( pounds 335 to pounds 670) a pop, according to Komsomolskaya Pravda. The newspaper jokingly suggested that Russia set up a political trading exchange, like a stock market, to keep track of the changing prices politicians are asking as their fortunes rise or fall.

The nationalist parliamentarian Vladimir Zhirinovsky has raised his fee, asking dollars 100 per minute, up from dollars 30. The Independent and many other Western news organisations refuse to pay interview fees, and the politicians do speak for free on occasion, during news conferences and in the corridors of parliament.

Zhirinovsky may soon be prowling the corridors of the Council of Europe. His name is on a list of Russian parliamentarians due to visit the organisation dedicated to the protection of human rights, peace between states and the end of conflict. With its great potential for embarrassment, the prospect of a Zhirinovsky visit is souring the mood at the Council's headquarters in Strasbourg.

(Photograph omitted)

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