Chernobyl teen wants to stay in U.S.

PETALUMA, Calif., Sept. 8 (UPI) -- A teenage victim of the Chernobyl nuclear accident is fighting to remain in the United States with the California family she spends summers with.

Tanya Kazyra's refusal to return to Belarus with the other members of her exchange group last month has sparked an international controversy, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Two Belarus envoys have visited the girl and promised her a free house and college education if she returns home.

A government television and media campaign in Belarus has labeled Kazyra's host family, the Zapata's of Petaluma, Calif., kidnappers.

Kazrya, 16, has spent the last nine summers with the Zapatas.

"I love Tanya like my own daughter," Debra Zapata told the Times. "If she wants to look into the chance of a better life here in the United States, I am going to stand behind her."

Zapata's attorney, Christopher Kerosky, says he is prepared to seek political asylum for the girl.



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