Britain’s Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband was knocked for six when a long-lost Russian family member rang in as he appeared on a radio show in Moscow.
In the country to discuss climate change, Miliband was taking questions on Ekho Moskvy when an 87-year-old woman rang up and said in Russian: “I am Sofia Davidovna Miliband, I am your relative; I am the only one left.”
Thinking the call was a hoax, the radio station initially cut her short.
However, through translation the pair worked out that his great-great-grandfather was the brother of her grandfather, both of whom were born in the Jewish quarter of Warsaw.
The minister’s grandfather fled to Belgium in the 1920s and then to Britain on forged papers to escape the Nazis. Unbeknownst to them, another branch of the family had headed east to Moscow.
Ed, whose brother David is Britain’s foreign secretary, rushed off to meet Sofia, ditching the British ambassador and invited guests at a reception.
Miliband told BBC radio it was a “very moving and fantastic experience”, describing his relative as “an amazing woman”.
Sofia Miliband was once an expert on Iran at the Moscow School of Oriental Studies.
“After the program she described who she was, I knew that absolutely checked out and this was absolutely her,” he said.
“I did sort of vaguely know when I was a kid about her existence. The way I know about it, if you look on a library computer her name pops up.
“I’ve always slightly wondered about her ever since I was a kid. It was just amazing for me to come face to face with her and it was fantastic.”(AFP)
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