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Members of Russian Circus Deny Rumors of ‘defection’

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The Russian National Circus, performing in Israel, has denied local reports that its members are planning to remain in Israel.

The management and performers of the Moscow-based circus, which was giving performances in Beersheba this week, appeared angered as they answered questions about their plans.

“It’s a different Russia today. You don’t have to defect as you had to in the past.

“Today, we are all free to come and go as we wish,” a spokesman for the group said.

Circus director Andrei Yufin, 50, referring to the fact that his father is Jewish, said: “That doesn’t mean I came to Israel to defect or stay here, as reported so sensationally in the press.

“We came here on business,” Yufin said. “It’s possible that some of the 100 performers want to stay, or even to take out citizenship, but as far as I know, no one has yet made such a decision.”

Bear-trainer Viktor Kodravchi, 42, a circus performer for 32 years, said: “We came to Israel for a series of performances, and when they are over we may stay on here briefly to help with the Academy for Circus Arts being planned here.”

He noted, though, that several circus members were thinking of staying in Israel to help establish the local academy because the salary would be far higher than the approximately $60 a month they earn in Russia.

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