At the end of 2003, former Russian banker Alex Konanykhin was spending a little time in jail as a guest of Uncle Sam, having been nabbed by U.S. immigration officials as he tried to go from Buffalo to apply for political asylum in Canada. (That's right, going across the Peace Bridge in his BMW, leaving the country. )

Konanykhin, one of the first Russian millionaires after the fall of the commies, left in 1992 and was granted asylum here in 1999. He's built a very successful Web advertising business in New York City.

But in November, an immigration appeals panel, apparently deciding that Vladimir Putin's justice system was just hunky-dory, reversed the asylum ruling. Department of Homeland Security folks moved with stunning alacrity to send him back to Russia, where he's accused of stealing from his bank. He says not so.

Then a federal judge in New York blocked the deportation, and the immigration appeals panel reversed its earlier ruling and sent the matter back to the first immigration judge.

So imagine Konanykhin's surprise when he got a breathless fax from the National Republican Congressional Committee saying he had been chosen "New York Businessman of the Year."

"As such, you will be honored and presented with your award," NRCC chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) said, at a "special ceremony" April 1. "President Bush and Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger are our special invited guests for the NRCC Spring Gala," the Reynolds invite said.

"We will use that letter as evidence Konanykhin qualifies for permanent resident status as a businessman of extraordinary ability," his lawyer, Michael Maggio, said yesterday. "Many thanks to the Republican leadership. I'm so grateful, a donation does seem appropriate."

Protecting Its Asset

"What's in a name?" Shakespeare asked in "Romeo and Juliet." Not much, according to the bard. But he surely would have agreed with Voice of America folks that a new logo means everything.

The new logo is "VOA's" visual identity [and it] conveys a powerful message about who we are," VOA Director David S. Jackson told his troops in a recent e-mail. "This visual representation of our identity is among VOA's most valuable assets. As with any asset," he warned, "it can be either enhanced or devalued."

So Jackson announced a "VOA Logo Usage Guide" that can be downloaded so no one will devalue the logo. The guide "is intended to ensure that the logo is protected, enhanced, and used in a consistent manner. The correct use of these elements is essential to supporting our leadership position in an increasingly competitive marketplace."

This "new look applies not only to print, TV and the Internet but also to signage, fax cover sheets, CD-Rom packing, brochures, questionnaires, business cards, and any other product displaying the logo." Old supplies will be used up, he notes.

So out with the old red, white and blue logo and in with the new blue, gray, green and white logo. And remember, the usage guide says, "do not change the typeface, do not alter letter spacing, do not change colors, do not add 'elements' [designs] to the logo" and please, whatever you do, "do not apply a pattern behind or in front of a positive version logo."

VOA's radio listeners will be furious if you do that.

Speaking of Reception

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's nasty dust-up Wednesday with Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), after Powell scolded a congressional aide at a House International Relations Committee hearing, generated unwelcome news.

But yesterday, Powell, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took a lighter tone.

"It's always a joy to be with the members of the committee," Powell said, "and your very professional, very experienced, very well-behaved staff." It got a laugh.

Heavy With Criticism? Use Justice Dept. Diet

Catching up . . . The Justice Department did not violate federal public records laws when it chose to redact large portions of a consultant's study outlining internal diversity problems, the department's inspector general said yesterday.

In response to a request from two Democratic congressmen, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reviewed the department's handling of a 186-page diversity report by KPMG Consulting, which was held from public release for a year and so heavily redacted that, for example, none of the recommendations was made public.

But Fine found that the report went through the normal review process before it was released, and that the Justice Department was within its legal rights to redact items that were part of the "deliberative process."

After unredacted versions of the report became widely available because of a technological glitch, the department eventually posted a full version on its Web site. Many of the censored items were critical of the department, including the fact that minorities were more likely to cite racial tensions as a problem.

See, there's the favorable deliberative process and the unfavorable deliberative process. And the government can decide which to reveal.