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Soviet Cameraman Disappears, May Have Defected To West

March 5, 1987

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ A Bonn-based cameraman for state-run Soviet television has disappeared and apparently defected to the West, a West German government official said Thursday.

The cameraman, Vladimir Kovnat, disappeared from Bonn in the past few days with his wife, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said Kovnat apparently defected, but would not say whether the camerman had asked West German or American authorities for political asylum.

A Soviet Embassy official said Kovnat has been missing since Saturday.

″We don’t know what his travel plans are, and we have asked the Foreign Ministry about it,″ said the official, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Foreign Ministry told the Soviets it had no information on Kovnat, a ministry spokesman said.

Interior Ministry officials could not be reached for comment. The ministry is in charge of police and would know about a search for a missing person.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Robert Heath declined comment.

The Hamburg-published Bild newspaper reported Thursday that Kovnat had defected to the CIA.

The newspaper said Kovnat’s apartment in Bonn had been searched by West German police. It said before Kovant came to Bonn, he had worked as a cameraman in Beirut.

Bild gave no sources for its report, which was to appear in Friday’s editions. Copies were telexed to news agencies Thursday evening.

Update hourly