14 Soviets From Stranded Circus Apply for Political Asylum
ATLANTA (AP) _ Performers from a Soviet circus that went bankrupt after just two U.S. performances applied for political asylum Wednesday, claiming they would be persecuted economically if they return to the Soviet Union.
The 14 members of the Great Circus Bim Bom comprise four families, including five children. The adults have temporary work permits while their applications are evaluated, said Tom Fischer, regional director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The circus had 118 members when it began a two-year tour of the United States last spring. Soon the circus ran into problems with its tour promoter, however. Financial backers pulled out and creditors seized the animals and equipment.
Bankrupt, the circus came here in May, hoping to raise money and get the show back on the road.
Three months later they were rescued. The promoter of the rival Moscow Circus paid some of Bim Bom’s debts and brought most of its performers and their families home. Last week, most of the animals and equipment were returned to Moscow, said Dale Schwartz, an immigration lawyer representing the remaining members.
Those who stayed said they did so becaue their families in the Soviet Union said they were being blamed publicly for the failure of the circus.
Circus director Yuri Turkin said the 14 asylum-seekers fear they would be barred from working in the Soviet Union.
Fischer wouldn’t comment on the asylum applications.
Vadim Lomakin, whose act includes chimpanzees who can ski, said he would like a job in this country working with animals.
″The circus was our life,″ Lomakin said. ″We will do anything to get it back.″