Soviet Actress Apparently Defects
Dec. 12, 1989
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A Soviet actress apparently defected after performing in a children's troupe as part of an exchange program with a local group, officials said.
Larisa Firsova, a 24-year-old apprentice actress with the Central Children's Theatre of Moscow, slipped out of her hotel room early Monday and went to an FBI office, a Minneapolis theater official said.
She was discovered missing Monday as 34 members of her 46-member troupe assembled at their hotel to head for the airport to go home, said Bill Conner, executive director of the Children's Theater Company of Minneapolis.
FBI spokesman Byron Gigler said Firsova has been transferred to the custody of officials at the district office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in St. Paul.
An INS official declined comment. ''We won't confirm or deny anything,'' said Thomas Schiltgen, acting district director. The INS does not disclose any information about individuals seeking asylum in this country, he said.
''We have no sense of what her status is,'' Conner said. He said he could assume only that Firsova had defected.
Conner said Firsova had appeared to be happy. The actress had one of the chorus roles in ''Dream To Be Continued,'' which finished its eighth performance Sunday at the World Theater in St. Paul. She has a husband in Moscow, he said.
She was not among the troupe's top actors, said Alexi Borodin, the Moscow company's artistic director.
''She has a nice appearance, and we needed someone who could dance, and that is the most that could be said about her,'' he said.
Firsova speaks little or no English and is trained principally as an actor, rather than a dancer.
The 34 troupe members returned home as planned Monday. The remaining 11 plan to stay a few more days to work on a play that Borodin plans to direct in Minneapolis this summer, Conner said.