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American Free-lance Photographer Killed in Russian Raid With PM-Russia-Chechnya, Bjt

December 23, 1994

BOSTON (AP) _ An American photographer who was killed in a Russian attack on the town of Grozny died while doing what she loved - capturing images of human drama, her family and friends say.

Cynthia Elbaum, 28, was decapitated during an air attack Thursday morning on a residential neighborhood in the breakaway Chechen capital. At least 23 other civilians were killed in the shelling.

Elbaum was inspecting the damage from the third straight day of Russian air raids when a warplane fired a rocket into a crowd.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman today expressed condolences to the Elbaum family and also urged other journalists to leave Chechnya ″for considerations of personal safety.″

″Her death is further proof of how dangerous this occupation is,″ said Grigory Karasin in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency.

″The comfort comes from knowing she wanted to be there,″ said her father, Barry Elbaum, a contractor and restaurant owner in West Hartford, Conn. ″She was working hard toward her career. ... She was incredibly bright and talented.″

Elbaum, who was of Russian descent, earned a degree in Russian studies from Smith College in 1988 and was fluent in the language. She lived in New York and was on at least her sixth visit to Russia, working free-lance.

″She told me she thought she would be going back and forth for the rest of her life,″ said high school friend Wilson Beebe. ″She felt some connection with the whole area.″

Elbaum had once taught English to Russian immigrants at the New York Association for New Americans, and worked as a translator last year for a Time magazine photographer.

But more than anything, she loved to photograph people. She sent her family and friends postcards made from images ranging from soldiers in tanks to merchants in bazaars.

″I’m just looking at two Russian men selling their parakeets in cages,″ said her mother, Jude Elbaum, from the family’s hometown of Ashfield. ″It was a postcard she made for my birthday last year.″

Beebe said he received a card this fall that showed a man on a stretcher in pain.

″She didn’t say anything about the photo,″ he said, ″but that’s the kind of thing she captures.″

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