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Senator COHEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Cherne, I regret that the chairman did not have an opportunity to read your biography in the beginning of the hearings, because it is truly an impressive record-including being a lawyer, which some regard as positive. I still do.
Mr. CHERNE. I gave it up.
Senator COHEN. As an author, I think that you authored your first book at the age of 27, and wrote one book, called "The Rest of Your Life," at the age of 32. I think that I would be interested in reading why you wrote a book about the rest of your life at the age of 32. Also an artist, a student of government, and certainly that of the human heart.
As you were talking-and because I think you really have great insight into the problem you have been discussing-that several members of the audience seemed to be indicating disagreement with what you were saying in terms of the guilt suffered by defectors, the depression suffered by defectors, and perhaps they will have an opportunity to testify later during the course of the hearings. But that is one of the great benefits of this society that people can have disagreements with people like yourself or myself.
I was intrigued by your statement about why it is important to have Soviet emigres, defectors or others come to the country, and you talked about the benefits of the Three Rs. I thought that you were on the verge of repeating what Vice President Bush said recently about Soviet tanks and bringing their talents to this country.
I raise the issue perhaps as a devil's advocate. Why should we be more concerned in this country about attracting or encouraging or facilitating refugees or defectors from Soviet Bloc countries, who suffer political repression, as opposed to those individuals who flee from economic hardship?
I am thinking, for example, of the Haitians, or Mexicans, or others from Latin America, who might wish to come to this country because there is no hope for any kind of economic freedom. Why should we make such an effort in attracting, or helping individuals who flee the kind of political repression as opposed to economic?
Mr. CHERNE. Let me say, first of all, that there is a very fragile but terribly important idea which animates this society-it is freedom.
Even in the periods which I spoke of, in which our door closes, and the surge is not very high, the Americans like to think of themselves, even when they are not and, fortunately, for the most part, they are, as unique by virtue of their freedom, unique by virtue of the nature of this society, it utter openness, even its anarchic openness. Our openness is not in every respect always an advantage.
I spoke of the urgency of keeping this refreshed, and no one refreshes it better than someone who has not experienced freedom, even if they have to go through a period of several years of utter bewilderment by the variety of choices which they are compelled to make if they are to live in the United States.
But I have an additional reason for thinking that we must be especially sensitive to two groups, one of which does not and need not
take any refugees. There are two groups, in my opinion, two countries, two very different nations, that will have a profound effect on our future. One is Japan, and the second is the Soviet Union.
We are as deficient in our knowledge of the Japanese culture, I would say probably more deficient in our knowledge of the Japanese culture than we are of Soviet culture.
Soviet culture is a very particular thing, and I must say that they have every reason to be proud of it. Excuse me, I want to modify this, the Russian culture. This is one of the common mistakes we make. There is a thing called a Russian culture, and it is not Soviet culture. The Russian culture is very complex. It is very rich. The Russian sense of homeland is remarkable. We don't understand it at all, and we can't possibly devise sound policies and relations even with friends without a better understanding of their culture.
In the case of Japan, the reason is fairly simple. We vacillate in our looking at the enormous competitive success Japan has had between attributing most of it to the fact that the Japanese keep our goods out, and they do keep a certain percentage of our goods out, or turn the coin over, because the United States has lost its competitive drive, instinct, and doing all sorts of things wrong, it is selling its patents to the Japanese.
Almost no thought is given to the fact that Japan, in fact, the reason why the Pacific Rim is turning in such an extraordinary performance, it is not actions which their government takes, it is the culture, it is the heritage left by Confucius which reinforces all of the attributes singularly useful, but none more than the drive to become educated, reinforced by a family structure which is the compelling force behind that educational drive.
We have no such culture. Until we understand that, I think our own efforts in the direction of repairing our educational system will be deficient. In addition, I think we will misunderstand what it is we face as we will continue to deal with Japan and the other groups.
Senator COHEN. Let me be more specific, if I can.
Assuming that we do more to help either your organization or others, and that we, in fact, make it more comfortable, more adjustable, more convenient for emigres and defectors to function and flourish in our society, what is the ultimate goal?
It is to embarrass the Soviet Union and the Bloc countries in the eyes of the world, as being opposed to freedom versus repression? Is it to force them to change internally, or is it, again, to force the world to look at the kind of opportunities that exist in a free society vis-a-vis the Soviet Union?
What is the ultimate goal, because we have to articulate that? Mr. CHERNE. I suppose that we each have our own view. I will give you my set of priorities.
Senator COHEN. What I want you to do is to juxtapose your goal vis-a-vis, let's say, the Haitians or the Mexicans, or the others who wish to flee to this country for another type of freedom.
Mr. CHERNE. I will do that.
In the case of those who come from the Soviet Bloc, but especially those who come from the Soviet Union, my number one goal is that we enrich ourselves with their effort, with their background,
with an increasing realistic knowledge of what it is we are dealing with, what is the nature of that society, with the infusion, which they will bring with them, of a sense of value to the freedom we take for granted.
The enrichment occurs in a number of ways. In some cases, the enrichment occurs with the professional and scientific attributes some of them bring, which are ill-used or not adequately used in the countries from which they come.
It is very interesting, for example, that we literally would have been able to break the puzzle of atomic energy, or it would have been years delayed, had it not, ironically enough, been for three people who came from one country, Hungary. It is one of those that are now part of the captive empire. There are a variety of ways in which we would be enriched in the process. In my view, nearly all immigration enriches us.
Why not Haiti? I feel very strongly, especially during the days of Papa Doc Duvalier and then his son, and the IRC reflected that strong feeling. Mine was shared by all of my colleagues. It was not a decision of mine. It was not the policy of the United States Government to encourage Haitian refugees who made their way in boats as flimsy as those which leave Vietnam, but it was the IRC's function to help them.
Here is a case where there is no government reimbursement. There are added costs, and so is wrestling with the U.S. Government agencies. We resettled Haitian refugees. Our test is simple. The IRC was formed to assist those who flee totalitarian governments of the left or the right, we make no distinction between them.
In the case of Haiti, you are not dealing with a great culture. There is a Haitian culture, but it is not a culture which will enrich us. But we are dealing with some of the victims who hurt most as a result of a very primitive and very violent dictatorship that prevailed in Haiti. Haiti today, apparently, does not have the dictatorship, it has something just as grinding, poverty.
The International Rescue Committee's function has been to concentrate on situations which have a political aspect, the flight from totalitarian governments. There are other agencies, many of the church agencies, who concern themselves, without reference to the political element, simply to the question of need. Therefore, I will not make a suggestion that it is more important to assist those who come from the Soviet Union than those who come from Guatemala. Senator COHEN. Thank you.
Senator NUNN. Thank you very much, Mr. Cherne. We would like to go on with you for a long time, because you could tell us a great deal that we would be the beneficiaries of, but we have other witnesses this morning. You have been most helpful. We are greatful to you for your testimony, for your insightfulness, your experience, and for your insightfulness, your experience, and for your dedicated service to this country and, indeed, to humanity.
Mr. CHERNE. Thank you.
Incidentally, I don't know whether you would wish a copy-one of the questions that you intended to go into, at least the staff alerted me to it, was the efforts of the Soviet Union to encourage
the redefection from here back to the Soviet Union of Soviet emigres.
Senator NUNN. Yes, we would like to have that. We will put that in the record.
Mr. CHERNE. This is the Donovan Commission report. In 1955, that was a major effort of the Soviet Union, and General "Wild Bill" Donovan was pressed into service to head a group of citizens to look into that subject. They did a stunning job, if you would like to enter that into the record.
Senator NUNN. We will have that as part of the record, without objection.
[The Dovovan Commission Report was marked Exhibit No. 28 and may be found in the files of the subcommittee.]
Senator NUNN. We will stay in touch with you as we come up with our recommendations. We would like for you to continue to have input.
Mr. CHERNE. I admire the work that you do.
Senator NUNN. Thank you so much.
We have two defectors who are now going to testify, both of them have, I think, a very meaningful story to tell for the committee this morning.
We have Elena Alexandra Costa. She is one of the few successful defectors, I understand the only one from the Soviet Embassy here in Washington since World War II. Ms. Costa defected in 1978 with her two small children. Although she offered the opportunity to her husband and encouraged him, he decided to return to the Soviet Union.
Ms. Costa will explain to us her unique reasons for defection, and certainly the problems of a woman with two small children in defecting. I suppose that too many of us view defectors as a world of men, diplomats and spies, in many cases. Ms. Costa's testimony, I think, will show us that there are other dimensions of this. She has gone on to become a very successful author.
We are delighted to have you here this morning. We are going to have both witnesses appear at the same time. They will not testify simultaneously, but we will have them both at the table as a panel.
The next witness that we will call is Dr. Ushakov. He was with us yesterday. He will testify and, as I mentioned yesterday in my opening statement, he has a story of just untold bravery and peril in his escape from the Soviet Union. It shows the quest of one man for freedom and the extent of his desire to be in the free world. We will hear from both of them. We do swear in all the witnesses before our subcommittee. Before you begin your testimony, if you would both rise, I will give you the oath.
Do you swear that the testimony you will give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Ms. COSTA. I do.
Dr. USHAKOV. I do.
Senator NUNN. We also have this morning, Dr. Nancy Lubin, who is the Sovietologist for the Office of Technology Assessment. She is going to come up to join Dr. Ushakov. Dr. Lubin has assisted the subcommittee in this investigation. She is fluent in three languages, including Russian, and she will be available, if necessary,
for translation purposes. She is suffering from the same kind of cold that I am this morning. Even translators have that problem, I understand.
Ms. Costa, why don't you lead off and give us your story. Then we will hear from Dr. Ushakov, and then come back with questions to both of you.
TESTIMONY OF ELENA ALEXANDRA COSTA, SOVIET DEFECTOR Ms. COSTA. Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee. I thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I must say that for a year-and-a-half I have resisted all pressure from Counsel Sopko to submit a written statement.1 Now I find that I will probably be reading from something that I jotted down yesterday because we are running out of time.
Senator NUNN. We would be delighted for you to read it or however you would like to present it.
Ms. COSTA. If I don't stick to my notes, it will take forever.
I would also like to say that contrary to the introduction that Senator Nunn gave to my appearance here, I do not want to speak of my story as a story of a woman with two small children. Surely, two kids on your hands doesn't help very much in building a life in a new country, but this is one case where I really don't have any reason to complain.
The problems I have are typical for most defectors in this country, both men and women. Just because I happen to be in a very strange minority, it doesn't make my problems any different.
I have submitted a biographical sketch to the subcommittee. To repeat very quickly, my name is Alexandra Costa, and my former name was Yelena Mitrokhina. My husband was the First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Washington. We came here in 1975 to open the Soviet Copyright Office. In 1978, I requested asylum and stayed here. My husband returned to the Soviet Union.
For the purpose of this discussion, because I am going to pay specific attention to the problems of employment, meaningful employment of defectors, I would like to go briefly over my educational background.
When I came here, I had an undergraduate degree in foreign languages, Scandinavian and English. I had a graduate degree in sociology. I have taught in a very special school in Moscow, a school for foreign Communists that is run by the International Department of the Central Committee.
After my defection, I went through the master's program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I received an MBA degree from that school. I taught computer courses in an American college-Montgomery College here in Washington. This is relevant to what I am going to talk about in terms of qualifications for employment and things like that, and that is the only reason that I am bringing it up.
I should also mention, probably, that after graduation from the Wharton School, I worked for a consulting company here in Washington for a couple of years, and then for Tandy Corporation. Since
1 See p. 306.