The Lonely World of a Refusenik

Vera Zieman lives in limbo -- and looks to the U.S. for help

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Reagan,

My name is Vera Zieman, but everybody calls me "Moscow's Orphan Annie." Though unlike Annie I have a family, and it is about its fate that I want to tell you.

She is a vivacious twelve-year-old who reads John Updike, finds Nancy Drew too predictable, and recites T.S. Eliot's poem The Journey of the Magi in a clipped British accent. A pianist, she talks enthusiastically about her favorite composers, Bach and Mozart. With her charm, dancing eyes and radiant smile, Vera Zieman should be one of the most popular girls in her Moscow school.

Instead, Vera's...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!