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American Freelance Photographer Killed in Russian Raid With AM-Russia-Chechnya, Bjt

December 23, 1994

BOSTON (AP) _ An American photographer killed in a Russian attack on the town of Grozny had planned to dedicate her career to capturing images of the region on film, some family and friends recalled Thursday.

Cynthia Elbaum, 28, was decapitated in an air attack Thursday morning on a residential neighborhood in the breakaway Chechen capital. At least 23 other civilians were killed in the shelling.

Elbaum lived in New York, but had made at least six trips to Russia in the past 10 years, said her mother, Jude Elbaum. Mrs. Elbaum, who still lives in the family’s hometown of Ashfield, Mass., said her daughter liked to photograph people.

″I’m just looking at two Russian men selling their parakeets in cages. It was a postcard she made for my birthday last year,″ Mrs. Elbaum said.

Elbaum’s father, Barry Elbaum, is a contractor and restaurant owner in Hartford, Conn. He and Elbaum’s mother are divorced.

Elbaum, who was of Russian decent, earned a degree in Russian studies from Smith College in 1988. She studied the language a year later at the University of Moscow for six months, and since then had worked in Russia as a freelance photographer.

She also was a translator last year for a Time magazine photographer.

″She told me she thought she would be going back and forth (to Russia) for the rest of her life,″ said high school friend Wilson Beebe, 33. ″She felt some connection with the whole area.″

Elbaum used to send her family and friends postcards made from her photographs, images ranging from soldiers in tanks to merchants in bazaars.

Beebe said he received a card this fall that showed ″a guy in hospital on a stretcher in what appears to be intense pain. She didn’t say anything about the photo, but that’s the kind of thing she captures.″

Elbaum was killed while inspecting the damage from the third straight day of Russian air raids. A Russian jet fired into a crowd of 20 people.

A British colleague wept as he helped Chechens wrap Elbaum’s remains in a carpet.

″I want to get her body home,″ Mrs. Elbaum said, her voice choked with tears. She said U.S. State Department officials had told her they did not know whether the body could be returned to the United States.

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