Soviet Girl Delivers Plea : Bulgarian Woman Wins Release of Her Daughters

From 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 learned that her request had been granted.

“I think the letter helped,” said a jubilant Darina Zekov, 33, of Los Angeles. “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 Friday she did not know when her daughters, Christina, 5, and Nilcolinka, 12, would come to the United States. She and her husband last saw the girls nearly three years ago, when the couple decided to defect.

Letter Delivered to Hotel


Although Zekov never got to meet Katerina Lycheva, on April 1 officials of the hotel where the Soviet girl was staying delivered the letter to members of her entourage.

“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. today, 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 take two months for the girls to leave.

The letter from Darina Zekov, a commercial artist, and her husband, Kirilov, a truck driver, earlier had pleaded with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to urge the Bulgarian government to grant exit visas to the two girls.


Defected During Vacation

“In the name of peace, compassion toward my two children, and as a gesture of good will toward all people, please use the influence of your office to help reunite our family,” the letter read.

The Zekovs left their hometown of Russe on a 14-day vacation to Austria in 1983 and never returned. The girls have been living with their paternal grandmother.

“I talk with them on the phone, but it is not enough,” Mrs. Zekov said. “My older daughter has been under treatment for depression. But when I talked to her this morning, she sounded very happy.”