Soviet Couple Defects to Bangladesh
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ A young Soviet couple fled the Soviet cultural center and walked into a police station requesting political asylum in Bangladesh, police said Thursday.
The Soviet ambassador immediately protested. A round of high-level meetings was held to consider the fate of Arkadi Victorovich Tulchinsky and his wife Anna, who said they had been detained for the past three days at the cultural center where they had worked since 1988.
No decision was taken. The governmment, meanwhile, moved the couple to a hotel.
Their request for political asylum is a novelty for Bangladesh, which has no record of ever granting such a request since the country’s founding in 1971. Officials could not recall any attempts to defect to Bangladesh, which is one of the world’s poorest nations and is frequently hit by weather disasters.
But an Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: ″Bangladesh does not believe in forcing anyone out of the country.″
The couple reached the Dhanmandi police station near midtown Dhaka at noon Wednesday. Both wore shorts. They carried only a briefcase.
″It has been impossible to work under the Soviet Embassy as we were under mental torture and administrative threat because of our opposition to communism,″ they said in a Bengali-language statement given to police.
Tulchinsky, 31, and his 24-year-old wife later told reporters they had been held prisoner by Soviet officials at the cultural center.
″We were not allowed even to drink water,″ Tulchinsky said.
″We are afraid of going back to Moscow for fear of repression because of our political opinion,″ Mrs. Tulchinsky said.
″I love Bangladesh and want to settle here,″ she added. The couple said they have been married four years and have no children. Both speak Bengali.
Soviet Ambassador Vitali Smirnov went to the Foreign Ministry as soon as he learned of the defection attempt, a senior official at the ministry said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He quoted the ambassador as saying the Tulchinskys had no reason to defect.
Arkadi Tulchinsky was the head of the language division at the Soviet cultural center, and Anna Tulchinsky was a language instructor.