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Russian Dancers say Boss Locked Them Up During Visit to U.S.

November 26, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two Russian dancers seeking asylum in the United States say the director of the ballet company kept them locked in an apartment with no telephone while they were in Washington.

Zhanna Sinitsyna and Aleksandra Koltun left the Kirov Ballet after police responded to a Washington apartment and prevented them from being transferred to the Soviet Embassy.

Oleg Vinogradov, the company’s artistic director, had said he only responded to the women’s pleas for help.

But the dancers said Vinogradov would have taken them to the Soviet Embassy on Nov. 12 if Alexei Avrin, a Russian emigre living in Washington, had not intervened by blocking the driveway.

″We were scared and being taken against our will,″ said Koltun. ″We wanted to stay in America.″

The local police responded and the woman were eventually turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is considering their request for asylum.

The dancers made their remarks in an interview with The New York Times that appeared in today’s editions.

Sinitsyna and Koltun, both 20 years old, were in the Kirov’s corps de ballet. They left the group’s tour in Washington on Oct. 26, and went to New York City, where they spent a week.

Vinogradov, who also is director of the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington, said in an earlier interview that Avrin drugged the dancers and forced them to go to New York. The dancers said that was not true.

They said they had made arrangements to rehearse with the New Jersey Ballet and had taken classes at the New York City Ballet, but became scared and agreed to return to Washington in a car that Vinogradov sent for them on Nov. 7, the Times reported.

They stayed atVinogradov’s apartment in Washington. During the day, when Vinogradov was out, the women said, they were locked in a second apartment with no telephone.

Vinogradov did not return calls seeking comment on the dancers’ story, the Times reported.

Avrin met the dancers during the company’s two weeks of shows at the Kennedy Center and offered to help them if they wanted to stay in this country, the dancers said.