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August 12, 2022



Child removed from Greek Romani family might be from Bulgarian Romani family

Athens, Greece / Sofia, Bulgaria, 24.10.2013 21:04, (ROMEA)

The Bulgarian and Greek media are reporting that the little blonde girl named Maria who was found living with a Romani couple last week in central Greece could be the daughter of another Romani couple living in Bulgaria. Atanas and Sasha Rusev, a married couple, have been interrogated by the Bulgarian Police and are waiting for the results of DNA tests.

The Bulgarian daily Trud reports that the couple have other children, two of whom are also blonde and blue-eyed like Maria. They live in the small town of Nikolaevo in central Bulgaria. 

Ms Rusev reportedly recognized the girl she believes is her daughter through photographs and wants her back. A man claiming to be Maria's Bulgarian uncle says she was born in Greece when her parents were working there during the olive and orange harvests.

The uncle says that when the couple wanted to return to Bulgaria, they did not have the necessary documents for Maria and therefore left her behind. Other reports, however, allege that the couple did not have enough money to care for the newborn.

The oldest son of the Rusev family told television station bTV that his parents received money in return for the infant, but Ms Rusev says they did not. The Bulgarian Police have not yet commented on the case. 

Ms Rusev gave birth to the girl in a hospital in the Greek town of Lamia, which is located about an hour away from the Romani camp where Maria was discovered last week. According to the hospital records, she was born to Ms Rusev on 31 January 2009.

Eleftheria Dimopoulou and Christos Salis, the Romani couple in Greece who were caring for the girl, gave that same date as her date of birth. They have already been charged with kidnapping the girl and are in custody. 

The possibility that Ms Rusev is the biological mother of Maria confirms Ms Dimopoulou's original testimony and that of her partner that the girl's actual mother gave her to them because she could not take care of her. The Greek Romani couple claim they saved Maria's life. 

The Bulgarian Romani couple were said to have sought a family to care for the unwanted child. Marietta Palavra, the attorney for the Greek Romani couple, told NBC television they reportedly did not want to take in the little girl at first because they already have five children, but were concerned she would not survive without their aid.

"[Ms Dimopolou] saw that [Maria] looked like a doll, a beautiful doll, and she was crying in her arms, and she thought she couldn't just leave her to her fate. She didn't want her to die or get into the wrong hands," news server Aktuálně.cz quotes the attorney as saying in the interview.

ČTK, ryz, news server Aktuálně.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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