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Letter to Soviet Girl Helping Reunite Bulgarian Family

From the Associated Press

A Bulgarian woman who sought passports for her children by delivering a letter to an 11-year-old Soviet girl on a peace mission to the United States learned Friday that her request had been granted.

“I think the letter helped,” said Darina Zekov, 33, who now lives in Long Beach. “Everybody knew about the letter, and why I gave it to her. I think they (the Soviets) called the Bulgarians and said, ‘You have to permit this.’ ”

Zekov said she did not know when her daughters, Christina, 5, and Nilcolinka, 12, would come to the United States. She and her husband have not seen the girls since they defected from the Communist country in 1983. The children have been living with their paternal grandmother, she said.

Although Zekov never met Katerina Lycheva, officials of the hotel where she was staying delivered the letter April 1 to the girl’s entourage. Katerina arrived in Chicago on March 21 and visited New York, Washington, Houston and Los Angeles before returning home early this month.

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“I got a call from the Bulgarian Embassy at noon yesterday (Thursday),” Zekov said. “They said they would permit them to leave. I called the American Embassy (in Sofia) at 1 a.m. . . . and they said ‘Yes, we know about it, it’s true.’ ”

A Bulgarian Embassy official in Washington told her the girls’ passports would be ready in 10 to 15 days. But a U.S. Embassy official in Sofia said it might be two months before the girls leave.

The Zekovs left their hometown of Russe on a 14-day vacation to Austria in 1983 and never returned. Zekov is a commercial artist, and her husband, Kirilov, is a truck driver.


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