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Russia: Lebed Inauguration Invitation Mystery Solved

Washington, 17 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The mystery of who invited retired Russian general Alexander Lebed to attend Monday's presidential inauguration ceremonies in Washington has been solved: it was a private citizen who donated a ticket that he had received from a U.S. senator

A spokesman for Senator William Roth (R-Delaware) told RFE/RL today that one of Roth's constituents is giving up his ticket for Lebed. The spokesman, Brian Tassinari, said he could not disclose the name of the donor.

The donor will meet Lebed on Monday in Roth's office. That's about two hours before President Bill Clinton takes the oath of office for his second term.

The ticket that Lebed is to receive will only allow him entrance to the public viewing area near the inaugural platform outside the U.S. Capitol Building. So, the general will be among an estimated 240,000 others who have received tickets. Each U.S. senator receives 400 tickets for the public viewing area. Members of the House of Representatives receive 200. Congress members distribute these tickets to friends and constituents.

White House spokesman Michael McCurry said yesterday that Lebed's ticket did not come from the White House, the State Department or either of the two official inaugural planning committees. However, McCurry said it was likely that Lebed would have a meeting at the State Department while he is in Washington.

A spokesman for the New York travel agency handling Lebed's private visit said the general arrives in Washington on Sunday and will leave the United States from New York no later than Thursday.