Bulgaria: Anastasia Died Here

SOFIA -- Bulgarian scientists have opened a grave that may contain the bones of Anastasia, daughter of the last tsar.


Bones taken from the grave are thought to belong to a woman called Eleonora Albertova, a Russian emigr? who local people are convinced was really the missing youngest daughter of the murdered tsar, Professor Yordan Yordanov said Wednesday.


The scientists intend also to open a nearby grave believed by locals to hold the remains of her brother Crown Prince Alexei, Tsar Nicholas II's heir apparent.


"We hope to unearth the second grave by the end of this month," said Yordanov, who is director of anthropology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.


The bones will be sent to Britain for DNA tests to ascertain whether they are those of the tsar's two youngest children.


British forensic tests last year showed a U.S. woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, was a fraud. The tests used blood donated by Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip, a relative of the Romanovs.


Albertova and her brother, known as George Zhudin, settled in the village of Gabarevo, 200 kilometers east of Sofia, in 1922 after escaping from Russia. The two, who as refugees probably had good reason to conceal their true identity, never claimed any link with the Romanov dynasty.


But local people, impressed by the couple's refined manners, command of languages and general secretiveness wondered if they were the tsar's children.


Local people said Albertova always wore a scarf around her neck and spoke in a strange voice, which they believed pointed to a gunshot wound that may have damaged her vocal cords.


Zhudin died in 1930 of tuberculosis and his sister in 1954.