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TRANSLATION FROM RUSSIAN ORIGINAL OF LETTER SENT FROM NAHODKA, PRIMORSKII REGION,
TO: ALEXANDRA LVOVNA TOLSTOY, DAUGHTER OF LEO NIKOLAYEVICH TOLSTOY, FROM CHRISTIAN MOTHERS OF THE EVANGELICAL PENTECOSTAL AND BAPTIST CHURCHES, EMIGRATING FROM THE
We have already appealed to you through our Bishop/Presbyter (these titles are of equal meaning to us, as it is written in the Gospel), Nikolai Petrovich Goretoi, Feodor Akimovich Sidenko (a member of our Church) and Lydia Voronina, now living in your Country of Freedom.
We appealed to you, that you, through God's mercy, open-handedly for God and your deceased parent, would give us, Christians, emigrating from the USSR, a financial loan to realize our departure.
Most Christians, especially those whose family members are under strict surveillance by the authorities, with all rights denied, or former prisoners (arrested for religious beliefs) have no monetary resources. With happiness we listened to your answer, during your interview with "Voice of America". At that time you had statedthat all those believers without any financial resources can approach the Tolstoy Foundation and participating Churches on this matter. We certainly do not need anything "gratis" - our families are full of strong young sons and daughters who, working in a new country of residence, God willing, will be capable of compensating your temporary loss with legal interest and heartfelt gratitude for such generosity and charity, so that others can make use of it.
But, Alexandra Lvovna (our esteemed and dearest sister in God - we cannot address you in any other way because of your God-abiding generosity and humanitarian attitude), we do not know how to gain access to the funds from your Foundation ! Where should we go and how can we receive them ? Please bear in mind that many of us are so poor that we have no means of submitting our documents to receive visas. The Soviet government is such that each city is governed by different laws. For instance, Christians living in Nahodka were told by the authorities of the Primorskii Krai "The cost of the processing of documents of those immigrating to Israel will be greater; the fee for renunciation of one's citizenship will be 500 rubles and an additional 300 rubles for other administrative costs. The reason for this is that the USSR has neither diplomatic relations with Israel not an Embassy. The renunciation of citizenship for those immigrating to the USA, Canada or Australia will cost 270 rubles and 30 rubles for administrative costs. The cost of transportation is not included."
But here is a second version which confuses us Christians. Our co-religionists living in the city and region of Zaporojie were told by the authorities from OVIR: "You will need a sack of money to leave the USSR. If you do not have this money, the government has no intention to subsidize your departure financially".
Furthermore, the Director of that particular OVIR office told the Christian Pentecostals Nikolai Gordievski (father and seven children) and Ivan Gerasimchuk (father and nine children):
1. Renunciation of citizenship is a must, not only for adults but also for children, at a rate of 500 rubles per person.
2. State imposition tax runs at 300 rubles, and transportation to the USA is 400 rubles. The cost of transportation for children depends upon their age; it ranges from 200 rubles and up.
These calculations produced by the director of that local OVIR clearly prove that the family Gerasimchuk would literally need a sack of money: 9 children, 2 adults, total 11 persons, therefore, 12,000 rubles, a sum they have never dreamt of.
Such an amount would not worry us if we were not living in the USSR. Here the prices for consumer goods are so "stable" that they are rising continuously, yet the average income for a "blue collar" worker is only 100 rubles per month. Considering the fact that the average income in the US ranges from 500 to 800 dollars per month and the dollar buys three to five times more than our ruble (we are familiar with the prices of your merchandise and produce) such figures as mentioned by the director of OVIR would not be frightening.
In one word, dear Alexandra Lvovna, you are, in your serene age, a mother to us all, to some, even a great-grandmother. We are asking either you or your assistants to speak over the radio "Voice of America" once again to explain to those emigrating -whom can we approach, which Embassy or bank in the USSR - authorized by you to make financial loan arrangements for all those who wish to leave ?
Aside from this, Alexandra Lvovna, we are asking you to write a letter to our government so that it would instruct its State OVIR offices to minimize and stabilize the sums for:
1. Renunciation of citizenship
2. State imposition tax
with an exact explanation as to what is needed for children of various ages as well as adults.
We believe that the greatness of your Father is comparable to your venerable age which will influence the authorities and they will abolish all their foolish methods of trying to keep us in captivity and will also lower all of these cosmic prices which no American has to pay when leaving the USA or Canada or any Latin American country. We are also asking you, Alexandra Lvovna, to write a letter to our government to let us emigrate not by means of "vyzovs" from abroad but simply through claims to OVIR as it is done in your country and in all of Western Europe for the period of 300 years. Grant us this favor and fulfill our requests, Alexandra Lvovna! Remember that such charity, especially so great, is valued immensely by our God and those people who honor Him.
TOLSTOY FOUNDATION, INC.
This is an abstract of a document, in Russian, received from Soviet Christians in Russia. In the original, a large part of the text refers to the Gospel. This summary contains only salient features, paraphrased into English.
Prepared by Alla G. Ivask (Mrs.) - Assistant Director
Department of Immigration and Resettlement
TO: Christians of all free countries of the World
Pope John-Paul II
Catholic Cardinals and Bishops
Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church and all Orthodox Bishops
Christian Unions of the Free World
Governments of Christian Countries
U.S.A., Canada, Agentina, Australia, France, Great Britain, Northern
FROM: Christians of Evangelical Faith, Pentecostals, Baptists, Orthodox,
Due to the fact that we do not wish to bow to their stern devil (Lenin), we are sent to concentration camps where countless millions of Believers have already died. For many years, 60 years, echo the cries of poor orphans and widows to the alter of the Almighty God and also the blood of killed and tortured Abels.
People, who have not sinned in front of the government, but on the contrary lived in faith and good will, are being harassed by Soviet Jimmy Jones.
However, the Sakharov group are good Samaritans, they realized our predicament and out of humanitarian feelings began helping us.
We are appealing to you to help us. In the World there exists the United
But your governments are adhering to these laws, while the Soviet government
we should be permitted to emigrate. Please, then help us.
The 25 of August 1978, many of us renounced our Soviet Citizenship and
Israel is freeing the Jews, Germany - Germans. You free us, Believers, disregarding our nationality. Over 20,000 Believers, children and adults, applied for emigration they are awaiting your help. Tens of thousands, who at present are indecisive, are nonetheless similarly inclined.
EMBASSY OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
January 9, 1979
Mr. Teymuraz K. Bagration
Tolstoy Foundation, Inc.
Dear Mr. Bagration:
Thank you very much for sending me a copy of your organization's memorandum on the emigration of Soviet Baptists and Pentecostalists from the USSR to the United States. My colleagues and I at the Embassy found it very interesting..
The Consular Section receives a large number of letters and appeals from Soviet Christians seeking help in emigrating from the Soviet Union. I am forwarding for your information a letter I recently received from a family living in Moldavia.
The Embassy has raised the issue of the emigration of Pentecostalists, as well as specific cases of Soviet Christians who have been denied exit permission. Rest assured that the Embassy will remain vitally interested in this critical issue.
If I can be of any further assistance to the Tolstoy Foundation, please do not hesitate to contact me again.