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was back in East Germany in the afternoon of July 21, 1986 (155). Later it was
reported that Meissner had lost his job and had been replaced by Peter Sydow
Following the Meissner incident, the GDR has been prohibiting travel to the West for those persons caught shoplifting on visits to the West, if the pertinent proceedings are transmitted to the GDR authorities by the legal authorities
in the FRG (157).
Another East German public official, Klaus Hennig, director of the Mechan
ics Institute in Karl-Marx-Stadt, affiliated with the Academy of Sciences, had
also chosen to stay in West Germany in February of 1987. After a short sojour, he returned to East Germany officially because of "a change of hart". Hennig
was also sacked from his job after his retum (158).
As we have seen earlier in this study, it is unavoidable that a number of
Soviet bloc émigrés and defectors -for a variety of reasons- cannot "make it" in
their new host country. Returning seems then to be a legitimate and understandable reaction, after having experienced 'the right to fail, the right to be wrong'.
However, Soviet bloc regimes like to put such returns in a special, propagan
dizing light that doesn't fail to conclude that life as governed and guided by cammunist principles is superior to the false illusions and mirages of the "so
called free world."
A next step is that some Soviet bloc countries have adorted more lenient
policies and corresponding legislation that makes return less risk-ful or not
punishable under certain qualified circumstances. The Hungarian penal code pro
vides in its art. '17, Ih that "staying abroad = not returning" will only be punishable if the Hungarian national involved has injured in a considerable man
ner the interests of the Hungarian republic. Although this concept is open to broad interpretation by the Hungarian courts, absence of harming in a considerable manner the interests of Hungary will mean absence of persecution and
consequently, no real basis for an asylum request in a Western country.
Poland eased the rules on issuing passports ( see p. 46 & 47 of this paper ) in such a way that when a Polish citizen fails to return home at one
time, he still will be able to retum home without having to fear that he won't be able to go abroad again ( see footnote 136 ), with the exception of persons on official trips who fail to retum and those involved in a criminal
Finally, one camot escape the fact that Soviet bloc countries have found
a propaganda bone in the 'malaise' that has gotten hold of West European countries and the US, each in their own way, when it comes to dealing with large refugee waves as they occurred throughout the 1980s. The present trend in West
em Europe is characterized by increasing restrictions on the right of asylum
and cutting drastically back on the numbers of 3rd World refugees. Traditionally
West Europeans have felt the first obligation to East European fugitives, but
even that has been seen as a heavy burden. Illustrative of the increasing frustation among West European politicians was Chancellor Kohl's comment: "We are not a country for immigration." ( TWP, Aug. 16, 1986, p. Al ) Burdened with flagging economies and millions of unemployed, most Westem European governments feel strained to the limit. Two measures underscore the problem of staying in the
FRG and West Berlin for Polish citizens. Warsaw Domestic Service broadcasted in
Polish on Oct. 4, 1986 that the Federal Administrative Court in Kassel had deci
ded that "Polish citizens cannot be considered to qualify for asylum ( in the FRG ) if they leave Poland legally and then remain in the West longer than the
time allowed." ( FBIS, Eastern Europe, Daily Reports, Oct. 6, 1986, p. G8 )
The content of the second measure was also announcedon the air by Warsaw Dames
tic Service on April 13, 1987 and concerned a decision taken by the West Berlin
authorities stating that "from May 1, 1987, all Polish citizens arriving in the city with the intention of remaining there for a lengthy period, will have to take formal steps to obtain asylum, which will only be granted on political grounds." ( SWB, Part 2, BBC, April 15, 1987, p. EE/8543/A1/3 )
On November 13, 1986, the Bundestag (
lower chamber of the West German
Parliament ) ratified also a new law on asylum proceedings along the same lines
as the decision of the authorities of West Berlin. ( DER TAGESSPIEGEL, West Berlin
Nov. 14, 1986 ).
One cannot escape the feeling that, in this specific case, the message to
the Poles who intended to come over for a long period of time without asking for
political asylum, was to stay home, while for those who were already there, com
pliance with the new regulations was imperative lest they would have to pack up
Bonn must have been so terrified by the human refugee waves of 1985 ( espe
ciully Tamils fran Sri Lanka ) and 1986 ( Lebanese, Turks, Iranians, Ghanaians,
etc... ) that the West German Foreign Ministry summoned Bulgarian and Polish dip
lomats at the end of September 1986 asking that those countries take steps to prevent refugees without visas from reaching West Cermany before October 1, 1986
I on that date new East German regulations went into effect that would allow only travelers with valid visas for their final destinatia cu transit through the GDR
see: TWIi, 9-29–1986, p. 6A ). Meanwhile the message to certain Soviet bloc re
fugees remains: "Stay home" or "Go back". One wonders if that is not what the
authorities of certain Soviet bloc countries wanted the West Germans to state
loud and clear, without asking explicitly for it. In other words, a perfect exam
ple of that type of active measures that aims at creating and influencing situations in such a way that Western political leaders ( or governments ) adopt ideas and projects, make political decisions that are conform to the Soviet interests ( Vladimir Kostov, Le Parapluie Bulgare, Paris, Stock, 1986, p. 186 ).
On the other side of the Atlantic, the US treatment of certain groups of
political refugees seems to have suffered some serious hiccups in the past. Under the title "Rounding Up Poles In America", columnists Evans and Novak wrote
a very critical article in the Washington Post ( Aug. 31, 1984, p.A21 ) stating that the INS was rounding up Poles and deporting them despite the fact that upon their return in Poland, those refugees could be charged with numerous offenses,
including treason. These round ups and deportations not only "belied the Reagan
Administration's impassioned praise for the bravery of Poland's outlawed Solidar
ity movement", ... , they also went against the fact that "political emigres from Poland are covered by a presidential policy called Extended Voluntary Departure, automatically protecting them from premature deportation by overzealous INS agent The same tune ran through another article published in the New York Times in its
April 1, 1985 issue under the title "No Way To Treat Solidarity Refugees'', which
stated that "Poles were battling the INS on three fronts: forced deportations to
Poland; low approval rates for asylum and un justified threats and harassement." The article continued that "Despite Mr. Reagan's repeated assertions that 'we wil
show our solidarity with Solidarity', the Service rejected 77% of Poles who ap
plied for asylum between 1981 and 1984. By contrast, about 75% of Poles' applica
tions for asylum were 1948 and 1980." Can one imagine better grist to the Polish
commnist propaganda mill? Another word for a deported person is "returnee" which
is the central notion studied throughout this paper.
GLASNOST, PERESTROIKA & RETURNEES.
The world has by now become well accustomed to its daily dose of glasnost and perestroika. This carefully planned and selective operation has even had its impact on returnees, especially on émigrés.
Since the end of November 1986 dozens of ex-Soviet citizens have chosen to
return to the Soviet Union and according to Soviet officials more than 1,000
requests would have been filed (159).
Several prominent artists have been quietly approached at the begiming of 1987 about returning to their old post ( the case of Lyubimov ) or were asked to return to the Soviet Union for a certain number of performances ( Baryshnikov, Makarova, Neizvesty, ) (160).
To open the "in-door" to a certain number of émigrés was clearly a turn around in policy with regard to Soviets who had abandoned their homeland but now wished to return. The previous Soviet attitude had been quite drastic and
clear-cut: to leave the Soviet Union by emigration or through defection was con
sidered close or equal to a treasonous act and punished accordingly for most defectors. Requests from émigrés to retum were pure and simply refused (161).
The new policy was described by Gennadi Gerasimov, spokesman for the Soviet Foreign Ministry as signaling a relaxation of the Kremlin's attitude towards Soviets who have abandoned their homeland but want to retum. "Last year (1985)
we decided to treat more favorably requests from former Soviet citizens to re
turn to their homeland." (162)
However, it is important to bear in mind that while the "in-door'' was
opened under the new reform policies of Gorbachev for a certain number of former
Soviet citizens, the use of the "exit-door" was more severely regulated under
that same policy by the new Soviet emigration law that went into effect on