Ragiye Ibragimova's son and daughter have received permission to travel to Ukraine on emergency visas.
By TRAVIS REED
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LIBERTY -- Ukrainian police and American Consulate officials are investigating the disappearance of a township woman who was traveling alone in the former Soviet Union.
Ragiye Ibragimova, 70, was last seen July 14, when she left the house of a relative she was visiting in Ukraine. She was reportedly on her way to a health spa in nearby Yalta to treat arthritis in her legs, and she took only a towel and bathing suit with her.
She apparently did not intend to stay longer than a day and left important medication behind, authorities said. Besides arthritis, it is unclear what medical conditions Ibragimova has.
Ibragimova and her family immigrated to the area around seven years ago with the assistance of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation. They have since become naturalized citizens.
They are part of the more than 500 people from the former Soviet Union for whom the Jewish Federation helped secure relocation because of religious persecution, said Sam Kooperman, the organization's executive vice president.
Ibragimova has a doctorate degree and was a science professor at a university in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, before coming to America.
Marc Dann, a close friend of the family, said he fears her disappearance might be the result of an anti-Semitic crime.
Ed Dickens, spokesman for U.S. Consular Affairs, said local police and American officials abroad searched hospitals and sanitariums Friday for Ibragimova but were unable to find any information regarding her whereabouts.
Ibragimova's daughter, Gulnara Tarp & euml;, and son, Edem Ibragimov, were granted emergency visas by the Ukrainian embassy in Washington on Friday and waited on standby for a flight.
Edem Ibragimov lives in California. Tarp & euml; recently graduated from medical school and is a resident physician at St. Joseph Family Medical Center in Warren.
Dann and his wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, had cared for Tarp & euml;'s daughter, Mavilya Chubarova, while Tarp & euml; was away at medical school.
"I don't know what to think," said Mavilya, 17. "My grandma's gone. I'm frantic. And now I'm worried about my mom."
She and her mother spent most of Thursday on the phone with embassies and government officials trying to get help, Mavilya said.
When she saw Ibragimova off at the airport July 6, Mavilya wasn't worried about her safety, she said. Her grandmother would be staying in the same house where she used to spend her summers as a little girl.
"I never imagined something like this could happen," Mavilya said. "It's a place you go to relax."
"I was concerned about how she's going to get around American airports. She can understand the language but can't speak it very well," Mavilya said. "But once she got there, I wasn't worried. She's got relatives everywhere."