Rugby Woman Hopes DNA Will Prove she is Great-Granddaughter of Last Russian Czar
Foss, Steve. "Anastasia’s Granddaughter." Grand Forks Herald, 30 January 2000, sec. 1C & 6C.
RUGBY, N.D. – A Bulgarian woman who moved here last year is calling for DNA testing to prove she is the great-granddaughter of Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia.
Lubka Tersiev, 42, says she is the granddaughter of the storied Anastasia, Nicholas II’s daughter, whose history is marked by controversy. Many believe Anastasia lived a secret life after surviving the 1918 murder of the czar’s family several months after the Russian Revolution. Forensic experts in the case believe she died from the assassins’ bullets and bayonets that killed the Romanov family.
Tersiev and her husband, Vasil Tersiev, say they defected to the United States in 1984 to escape arrest for activities seen as subversive by the communist Bulgarian government.
Lubka Tersiev says Anastasia and her brother, the Crown Prince Alexis, made their way to Bulgaria after the murder, helped by a family who took them in.
Tersiev said Anastasia became a Russian language teacher in Bulgaria, married, had four children and died there without ever revealing her secret. Tersiev said her father was one of Anastasia’s children. Tersiev said her great uncle Alexis – a sickly boy – died as a young man in the early 1920s.
A family secret
Tersiev said her two aunts told her the story in 1979, a belief kept tightly as a family secret and not even revealed to some who married into the family. Tersiev said she left behind photos and mementos of Anastasia when the couple fled Bulgaria, but that her belongings have been kept safe.
Among the mementos is a gold ring with the Cyrillic initials of Anastasia used to stamp wax-sealed documents, and photos of Anastasia before and after her relocation, Tersiev says. All Tersiev said she was able to bring with here was a small photo of her father, who she said was a young Bulgarian Royal army officer before communists overthrew the government in 1944.
She said two cousins remain in Bulgaria who are also Anastasia’s grandchildren, but that the aunts are dead. Tersiev said she never met Anastasia, who died before Tersiev was born. Her father also has passed away, she said. Tersiev said her maiden name was Vajarova, and that she grew up in a town near Sofia, but would not name relatives or the town they live in. She said they would not want the story made public, and fears the publicity could put them in danger.
“I don’t want to give names until I have DNA proof,” she said.
Tersiev said Anastasia and Tersiev’s aunts and other family members are buried in a family plot, and she fear glory hunters or troublemakers could disturb those graves.
U.S. citizens in ‘99
The Terseivs became U.S. citizens in November in Minot, according to Don Knutson, a federal immigration examiner based in Portal, N.D. The couple said they’ve waited until they were citizens to seek DNA testing because they didn’t feel secure enough before.
The couple – both artists – said Lubka works for an area manufacturing firm, and Vasil is opening a small art gallery in town.
Lubka Tersiev says she has little interest in whatever fame or fortune might attend Anastasia’s granddaughter and heir to Nicholas II. She said she and her four children need to be sure of who their ancestors were. She said she hasn’t told her children yet.
“I don’t want to go public with this, but I need your help so we can get this test,” she said. “We’ve tried already to get this test without involving anyone else.”
The couple also is looking for help from Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., to arrange genetic testing for Lubka.
British and American scientists used DSN testing several years ago to confirm that bodies exhumed in Russia were Nicholas II, Czarina Alexandra, three of the their five children and several servants. Missing were the bodies of two of the couple’s children, the Crown Prince Alexis and a daughter believed to be Anastasia.
A spokeswoman in Conrad’s office confirmed that Vasil Tersiev had contacted them on Jan. 18 and requested help in getting DNA testing done from a military lab.
Spokeswoman Laurie Boeder said it’s not appropriate for private parties to use publicly funded facilities in that way, but said the office would be happy to work with the Tersievs to try to put them in touch with other sources for testing.
Reprinted with permission of the Grand Forks Herald.
Lubka Tersiev, 42, of Rugby, N.D., says she is the granddaughter of the storied Anastasia, daughter of the last Russian czar, Nicholas II. She is calling for DNA testing to prove she is the great-granddaughter of the czar.
Czar Nicholas II, seated second from left, Czarina Alexandra, standing center rear, and other family members are shown in this photo, date unknown.
Lubka Tersiev’s father, left, whose last name was Vajarova, was purportedly the son of Anastasia. He was an officer in the Royal Bulgarian army and later an engineer. He was interned by the Communists when they took power in Bulgaria in 1944, but his life was spared because of the usefulness of his engineering training. Vasil Tersiev, right, is Lubka Tersiev’s husband. The Tersievs defected from communist Bulgaria to the United States in 1984.