British protect Soviet director

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Soviet stage director Yuri Lyubimov was said to be under British protection Tuesday against KGB agents in London. As reported in The Christian Science Monitor Monday, Mr. Lyubimov asked the British Foreign Office for physical protection following a confrontation with the Soviet Embassy here.

The Daily Mail newspaper said on its front page Tuesday that Lyubimov had been given ''armed Special Branch protection,'' which would indicate that police were involved. Monitor correspondent David K. Willis writes that a spokesman for New Scotland Yard later denied that any police were being used. However, it is understood that the Foreign Office can provide protection using other forces.

Lyubimov is artistic director of the famous Taganka Theater in Moscow, which he founded in 1964. His last three plays there have been canceled by the Soviet Ministry of Culture. Now in London to direct a play based on Dostoyevsky's novel ''Crime and Punishment,'' Lyubimov used an interview with The Times (London) Sept. 5, two days before his play opened, to criticize Soviet censorship bluntly and with vehemence.

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Viktor Popov, the Soviet ambassador to Britain, refused to attend the premiere as a mark of disapproval. Press counselor Pavel Filatov confronted Lyubimov the day after the play opened and demanded a retraction. The angry scene with Filatov apparently caused Lyubimov to fear for his safety. He asked for physical protection and also requested that his British visa be extended for one month, to mid-October. The British Home Office granted the request.

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