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Furthermore, it also implies that if the right to leave and return freely to its own country (art. 13,2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 ) would be fully recognized by the Soviet bloc countries, defection would not be a mass phenomenon as it has been over the past decades, although the main reason for the mass defections continue to be the type of society created by totalitarian communist regimes and their management of it.

The generic definition does not of course diminish the value and usefulness of the more functional type of definition, which is construed for more specific reasons. The advantage of the generic approach is that it creates a total picture, which in itself promotes a better understanding of a complex reality.

But formulating this global definition with regard to Soviet bloc defectors also has its consequences as far as defector's handling is concerned. Indeed, defector's handling will be commensurate with the size of the definition, though it is obvious that the nature of the handling will differ in function of the different categories of Soviet bloc defectors. A high-level military or intelligence official defecting will have to be treated differently than a 19 or 20 year old soldier or student who defects to the West. But it is obvious that defector's handling is not confined to just the high-level defectors. It encompasses a whole range of different people of unequal value, importance, having very contrasting experience and knowledge but nevertheless deserving a fair treatment.

Another main point that appears more distinctly is the link between "defector" and "political asylum". Both notions are closely related to each other although not necessarily identical. Most Soviet bloc defectors will request and obtain political asylum in the


US. As such political asylum becomes part of their status in this country which might evoluate into US citizenship after a certain number of years.

This paper does not attach too much importance to the distinction that has been made between "escapees" and "defectors", whereby the former would cover those Soviet. bloc citizens who physically escape from their country by crossing into the West, and the latter term would only indicate those Soviet bloc citizens who decided not to return once legally arrived in the West. Both are considered in this study as defectors since it is not important how and where Soviet bloc citizens came to stay in the West, but rather the fact that they decided to break their bond of allegiance with their country.

A last important remarque is that this study has directly and indirectly shown that Soviet bloc defection being such a large phenomenon is in reality is the embodiment of Soviet bloc countries not respecting the basic human rights, one of them being the right to leave and return freely to one's own country. If people were not denied basic rights such as the freedom of speech, religion, press, of assembly and above all, the freedom to choose their own politcal system and the right to take their own destiny into their hands, the need to defect would not be felt, if at all. Soviet bloc defections would be down to a trickle.


ART. 64 Criminal Code of the RSFSR


Article 64 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR reads as follows:


High treason, i.e., an act deliberately carried out by a citizen of the USSR, to the detriment of the sovereignty, territorial inviolability or state security and defense capability of the USSR; desertion to the side of the enemy; espionage; transfer of a state or military secret to a foreign government; flight across the border or refusal to return within the border of the USSR; rendering to a foreign government of assistance in carrying out hostile activities against the USSR, and equally, conspiracy with the goal of seizure of power,

is punishable by imprisonment for a period from 10 to 15 years with confiscation of property and / or with or without exile from one to five years, or by execution with confiscation of property.


A citizen of the USSR, enlisted by a foreign intelligence service for carrying out of hostile activities against the USSR, is freed from criminal responsibility, if he, in executing his assigned criminal act, does not carry out any sort of action and voluntarily informs the organs of authority of his connections with a foreign intelligence service.

Law of the RSFSR of July 25, 1962 as amended by the Decree of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR of January 30, 1984, published respectively in the Register of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, no. 29, 1962, p. 449 and no. 5, 1984, p. 168.

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Julia Wishnevsky

This summer, a group of Soviet citizens who had been refused permission to leave the Soviet Union to live with their spouses and children in the United States compiled a list of formulations used by Soviet officials instead of explaining the reasons for the refusal to grant them exit visas.

On November 5, members of the Soviet delegation to the thirtyfive-nation Helsinki follow-up_conference that opened in Vienna on November 4 announced that the Soviet government had decided to publish new legal measures governing the procedures for travel abroad by Soviet citizens. A USSR Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gennadii Gerasimov, explained that a decree to this effect had been adopted and would come into force on January 1, 1987. It would obligate officials of the Soviet agency concerned to issue a ruling on an application to leave the country within one month of the application being submitted. In the case of a death in the family, foreign travel requests would have to be answered within three days. Gerasimov said special restrictions on traveling abroad would apply only to citizens privy to state secrets, involved in unresolved property disputes, or charged with a crime.1 Reporting from Moscow on November 8, Serge Schmemann of The New York Times stated that, under the terms of the new decree, in the event of an application for an exit visa being refused, the applicant would be informed of the reasons for the refusal.2

* Translation of RS 182/86.

1. AP, November 5, 1986. The decree was also mentioned by the chief Soviet delegate to the Vienna conference, Yurii Kashlev, at a press conference in Moscow on October 29, 1986; see RL 412/86, "Yurii Kashlev to Head Soviet Delegation to Helsinki Follow-Up Conference in Vienna," October 30, 1986.

2. The New York Times, November 8, 1986.

RL 426/86


November 10, 1986

Whether the decree will actually make it easier to emigrate from the Soviet Union remains to be seen. The clause regarding. "special restrictions" obviously leaves the Soviet authorities plenty of leeway for arbitrary decisions. In the past, "being in possession of state secrets" and the lack of a financial waiver from the would-be emigre's parents or divorced spouse were the most frequent grounds for refusing permission to emigrate.3

Nevertheless, the very fact that a decree of this kind is to be published represents a big step forward. Until now, no law of any kind governing travel abroad by Soviet citizens existed. The procedure for traveling abroad either as a tourist or for permanent residence in another country was hitherto regulated exclusively by departmental directives, most of them secret.4 Those directives that have found their way into samizdat make fairly depressing reading.5

One of the most interesting points in the new decree is that applicants will now be told why their application has been refused. Previously, people who have asked why their applications have been refused, have as a rule, been fobbed off with some brusque reply. Some months ago, a group of Soviet citizens who had been refused permission to join their foreign spouses and children abroad compiled a "Phraseological Dictionary of Refusals." The dictionary contains a list of twenty formulations employed by officials at both the Moscow and republican branches of OVIR in reply to inquiries why applications have been refused.6

According to the authors of the dictionary, a copy of which recently reached the West through samizdat channels, officials at OVIR most frequently use the formulation "Your emigration to join your wife (or husband) is undesirable." The officials never, however, explain for whom their emigration is undesirable or how long their emigration will remain undesirable. The other formulations in the dictionary are used with more or less equal frequency:

"Your emigration to join your wife (husband) in the USA runs contrary to the interests of the state."

"We do not need such families."

3. See RL 197/86, "Some of the Formalities Soviet Citizens Face in Exercising Their Right to Go Abroad," May 20, 1986.

4. See RL 197/86 and RL 409/86, "Izvestia Condemns Unpublished Directives," October 29, 1986.

5. AS 1083, 5053, and 5054. These and other samizdat documents concerning the procedures involved in obtaining permission to travel abroad are summarized in detail in RL 197/86.

6. AS 5802.

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