THIS is all completely over the top. Having decided to dispatch Russian-speaking reporter Ron McBride to Moscow to cover the referendum called for Sunday by President Boris Yeltsin, Metro News decided their man needed a quick bit of tutoring on the ways ofthe KGB. (Obviously Metro is still to hear of glasnost !) So, sporting one of those fluffy hats much favoured by the Cossack commissars and flanked by an assortment of burly minders handpicked from the Metro newsroom, the intrepid reporter made his way around town getting acquainted with what might be in storewhen he gets to Mother Russia. As Ron goes about his news-gathering duties in Moscow, we hope he'll do somewhat better than the last time he was called upon to put his knowledge of the Russian language to good use. On that occasion - and we are genuinely sorry to have to remind Ron about it - he was working for Independent Radio News in London and covering the visit of Raisa Gorbachev (husband Mikhail was engaged on G7 matters) to a children's hospital. Stepping boldly into the midst of the then Soviet first lady's brawny security men with microphone poised, Ron was about to ask Raisa, live on air, about her thoughts on the G7 summit when - obviously overcome by his own daring - he got hopelessly tongue-tied and instead ended up asking her in Russian what she thought of the hospital. After pondering the question in all its many aspects, Raisa went on to deliver a long monologue on the therapeutic qualities of Rupert Bear, Flopsy the Rabbit and the assorted nursery companions she had met on the ward rounds. Meanwhile, the producer wastearing his hair out in the studio. We trust there will be no such occurrences when Ron reports from Moscow for Metro News, starting today.