- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006


Party turns wild at Lenin’s birthplace

MOSCOW — Russian communists are angry after they discovered that strippers and drunken businessmen had turned the birthplace of Lenin, once one of the most hallowed museums in the land, into a wild party zone.

The Lenin Memorial Museum, a complex of buildings with Lenin’s home at its heart in the central Russian town of Ulyanovsk, acknowledged throwing open its doors to corporate parties in an attempt to raise revenues.

Museum staff acted as waiters at vodka-tasting parties and other events hosted by local banks and factories that often degenerated into binges with strippers, local newspapers reported. Local Gov. Sergey Morozov wants to turn the museum into a theme park called Leninland, where visitors can dodge secret police and relive “the gulag experience.”


Wanted cleric to head parliament

MOGADISHU — Somali Islamists yesterday named a firebrand cleric wanted by the United States for reputed links to the al Qaeda terror network as the head of their new “parliament.”

Officials said Hassan Dahir Aweys — a wanted “terrorist” in the United States — had been chosen to lead the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC), which will serve as a parliament for regions under the courts’ control.

The appointment was announced as the Islamic courts shore up their control of Mogadishu and outlying towns following the dramatic victory of their militia fighters over a U.S.-backed warlord alliance here earlier this month.


Probe ordered on U.S. spying

BRUSSELS — Belgium has launched an inquiry into a covert U.S. spy program to monitor international banking transactions through Belgium-based intermediary SWIFT, a justice ministry spokeswoman said yesterday.

Spokeswoman Anaik De Voghel said Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx had ordered the Belgian intelligence services to investigate the program, confirmed by senior U.S. officials Friday after it was leaked to U.S. press.

Belgium’s Financial Intelligence Processing Unit (CTIF) also had been asked “to prepare a legal analysis to determine if all has been done in compliance with regulations in Belgian law,” Miss De Voghel said.


14 prisoners released from Gitmo

The U.S. military has sent 14 Saudi nationals home from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, bringing the number of prisoners at its war-on-terror detention center to “approximately 450,” the Pentagon announced yesterday.

The announcement said one of the Saudis, whose name was not released, had been found by a special military tribunal to no longer be an enemy combatant, while the remaining 13 “were approved for transfer by an administrative review board decision.”

The move comes after two Saudis and one Yemeni committed suicide in the detention camp.


Transparency fires executive director

NAIROBI — The Kenyan branch of global graft watchdog Transparency International said yesterday it had sacked its chief over sleaze allegations amid a series of corruption scandals that have rocked the nation.

The board of directors of Transparency International-Kenya (TI-K) said it fired Executive Director Mwalimu Mati after an audit revealed irregularities in consultancy contracts and misuse of the group’s name for financial gain.

It said the audit found “major anomalies and irregularities in contracts awarded to a company run by persons with links to [Mr. Mati] as well as the improper use of TI-K’s name to procure financial accommodation to a company with the same linkages.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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