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From our "grass-is-always-greener" file comes this story. Russia's RosBalt news agency is reporting that Aleksei Lebedev, a bank clerk, financial analyst, and former neighborhood council member from St. Petersburg, has asked a local communist party to help him secure "political and economic" refugee status from North Korea.

Lebedev plans to apply for asylum with the North Korean Embassy in Moscow and to appeal personally to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

According to the report, Lebedev was laid off in February and has since been unable to find work. He is reportedly disenchanted with capitalism and exhausted by "the daily burden of unpaid bills."

For its part, the Communists of Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast party has promised to help Lebedev and expressed its concern about the "outflow of capable and trained workers from Russia, even if they are going to socialist countries."

-- Robert Coalson

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at