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Senator Nunn. It occurs to me that that kind of tight control over the computers and printers from the point of view of state security or secrecy or totalitarian control, whatever the motives, is totally incompatible with the Soviet Union's desire to be part of the modern world economy.
Is that what they are coming to now, trying to figure out how to rationalize that incompatibility, because I don't see how any country can compete economically when the citizens cannot really have a free flow of information, a free use of computers in this age. It seems to me that their system of security is completely incompatible with the information age. Do you agree or disagree with that, both of you?
Dr. USHAKOV. You are absolutely correct. The prohibition of the dissemination of information is the breaking of the Soviet economy.
Ms. COSTA. As a computer specialist, I can tell you that it can be accomplished. They do have industrial computers that run the airlines and major industrial enterprises. Quite obviously the military have quite a few computers purloined from the Silicon Valley and replicated there. So they do have computers.
They don't have to introduce personal computers, or what they introduce is an outdated version of Apple IIc that you can use, but you don't necessarily must have a printer. Besides, in the Soviet Union, there are many ways to control the printer output, and one is to take ribbons off the market. You can have a printer, but there is nothing to print with. It is very easily done.
Senator Nunn. I can see how they could make that work in a military organization, and perhaps in heavy industry, where things are heavily centralized, but I just think that the information age has moved us into a whole new dimension of decentralization in the utilization of computers and the exchange of information. I just don't see how they are going to be able to make that transition except in the industries that lend themselves to centralization.
Ms. COSTA. Senator, the whole country is centralized.
Senator Nunn. I realize that, but I am saying that it is incompatible
with a prosperous economy in the information age. Ms. COSTA. That is why they are so poor.
Senator Nunn. That is the point that I was making. It seems to me, no matter what they try to do with their economy, they are not going to be able to become a prosperous thriving country in this age that we are in now without a considerable dose of freedom of some sort, maybe totally different from what we have here, but a much less rigid system. I just don't think there is any way they can span the gap between economic needs and that totalitarian rigidity.
Perhaps, Mr. Ushakov, you would like to explain further? I am just asking you about the Soviet Union's economics, and whether you believe the totalitarian system itself is incompatible with economic prosperity.
Dr. ŪSHAKOV. For instance, the hermetically sealed borders, this is a barrier for the contacts between people in the field of economy. The average Soviet plant or factory cannot establish contacts with a similar plant or factory in the West or in the Eastern European countries immediately, without mediators. The mediators are ministers and so on, this is a bureaucracy. This practice is the real breaking for the developing of the Soviet economy.
Senator Nunn. Doctor, what about your family? Have you been able to be in touch with your family since you had to leave them?
Dr. USHAKOV. The usual practice is that the members of a defector's family are hostages in the Soviet Union. My mother died twoand-a-half years ago, she had a heart attack, they think because of questioning by the KGB. My wife, who still lives in the USSR, has not been given appropriate medical treatment.
She has been denied a visa in spite of my official invitation and her illness. This is in violation of the Helsinki Accords, as well as Soviet law. Incidentally, she has breast cancer, and she is only 33 years old. She is only 33.
I hope that the Senate will help me and others with this problem, since it is common to all defectors, not only to me.
Senator Nunn. I have written a letter, and I know that Senator Cohen will join me in sending that to General Secretary Gorbachev about your wife. I don't know what results it may produce, but we will do everything we can to put the case before him and ask for his attention.
I understand that under both Soviet law and international law, without any doubts, her rights are being violated even under Soviet law. Is that correct?
Ms. COSTA. No.
Dr. USHAKOV. It is against even the Soviet law because they signed the Helsinki Accords.
Senator Nunn. Ms. Costa, could you tell us a little bit more about your motives for coming to this country and leaving your country?
Ms. COSTA. Yes, but first I would like to comment slightly. The Soviet law does say that their internal law supersedes international law. The Soviet Union states that their internal regulations supersede international law.
Senator Nunn. I think that what Dr. Ushakov is saying is that when they signed the Helsinki Accords, they took on a different set of obligations internally.
Ms. Costa. Yes, but the new law on emigration states clearly that if the invitation comes from the person who is abroad in violation of the Soviet emigration laws, permission will not be granted. I am trying to get my mother out, and there is absolutely no way. That law is a stone wall.
Dr. USHAKOV. Ms. Costa, I want to correct you. This is not a law, this is the rule inside of the local law. But the international law is more hard than the local one. It is stronger, so the Helsinki Accords are stronger than the rule inside of the usual local, the Soviet law. You have to think about it.
Ms. Costa. Theoretically, yes. In practice, they do apply that law that was passed on January 1, 1987, and there is that Article 25(e) that absolutely prevents any families of defectors from leaving. As a matter of fact, what the Soviets are doing right now is playing with the statistics just the same way as they played with the statistics in Alex's case.
You need a permission to submit papers for emigration, and if that permission is not granted by a special officer, you cannot even submit the papers, and that is how they keep the number of Refuseniks down. My mother never got over even that stage. They just quoted the law and said: Don't bother. She is not officially counted as a Refusenik, because she never even submitted the paperwork. It is very simple.
My motives, it is almost next to impossible, there were so many, and so complicated. There is a whole 300-page book that basically tells about motives. I guess, I went through several stages of selfrealization, getting acquainted with this country and understanding how this country works, and also arriving at the point where I realized that the Soviet system doesn't work and can't work because it is wrong in its own foundation.
Whatever I was trying to do, and I was trying to be a very good citizen, and I was trying to do my best for my country, it was an absolute waste of effort. As a result you feel that you have wasted half of your life. I was over here at that time, and I also realized that there was another way of living, an honest way, where you don't have to say one thing and think another, where you don't have to teach your children to do that. You can contribute something to the society that wants your contribution.
This is why I am going back to the problem of employment for defectors, because it is such an important issue, because in the Soviet Union, we are just little pegs in a huge machinery. There the state comes first, and in this country, the individual matters. Because we came to this country to feel ourselves as individuals who matter, it is so critically important for us to maintain that feeling of self-respect and self-worth.
I guess that this was the main reason that I stayed here, because I felt that I was nothing there, and I had certain abilities and certain capacities that I wanted to use not just for myself, but for the country, and that country there did not need me. This country does, at least, I have not been disappointed by this country. I do feel that it needs me. It has welcomed me warmly and it has given me an opportunity to be myself, and I am grateful for that.
Senator NUNN. Senator Cohen.
I want to echo the remarks of Senator Nunn with regard to what he said to both Dr. Ushakov and to you, Ms. Costa, of your testimony.
First, I might say that John Hausman may have to do a new ad for the both of you. You both have done it the old-fashioned way, and you really earned it. Perhaps, these hearings, with C-Spanand I wish that the other networks could have been here to listen to the messages that you have given all of us-will help you advertise.
I would say, Ms. Costa, I am terribly impressed with your testimony, and we have a great deal to learn from you. I think that I might offer you something from us, and that is, you are right, you cannot legislate morality, we all know that, but laws do make a difference. ERA is important, for example, to me because it makes a statement about what our goals ought to be.
When we outlawed the unequal treatment of blacks, it made a big difference in our society. The force of law does change at least external opportunities, if not the internal workings of the heart. By providing the rule of law and giving people or persons, individuals, the same opportunity, perhaps over a longer period of time, we will change ultimately the bias or the bigotry or the prejudice toward given groups.
So I think that the law does serve a very positive function. It doesn't legislate morality, but it helps, I think, to shape society for the better. I think that the effort on the ERA, while not successful thus far, has made a big difference in the way in which we have provided for opportunities for women. The laws pertaining to civil rights have made a lot of difference in the lives of black people in this counrty, and I think, ultimately, have changed the attitudes of the American people toward minorities for the better. This is to be kept in mind, I think, as we go along.
I asked a rhetorical question of our first witness, Leo Cherne, who is still sitting in the back of the hearing room. I said, "What difference does it make?” Why should we give you special attention as opposed to those from Latin America or any impoverished country?"
It was rhetorical, but your testimony today answered it, because it does serve a very special purpose. We have to attribute all of our quotes in the life in which we live, and one of the quotes that has remained in my mind by one of my favorite authors—you two may become my favorite authors-Alistair Cooke wrote a book called “America,” and in one of his chapters he compared us, as most writers do, to Rome.
He talked about how we were in danger of falling victim to the same kind of fate as Rome did, because of the internal decay, which you identified in your home country, also occurs here. He said, in America, “I see the most persistent idealism and the blandest of cynicism, and the race is on between its vitality and its decadence.
It is true of our country. The race is on between its vitality and its decadence, and I think the valuable contribution you make is that you constantly reignite the idealism as opposed to the decadence. That is why we have open borders, and that is why we invite people in, especially those from countries who are oppressed by totalitarianism. We know that if you have a free and open stream, you have life, and you have regeneration. If you have a closed point, you have death and decay. And that applies to not only ponds and rivers, but to societies as well.
What you have sacrificed to get here, and the message you bring, helps to shake us from our lethargy or our sloth or our indifference-and if not shake us, then replace us. So we welcome you in that particular spirit.
A final point, I guess, Ms. Costa, I wanted to ask you. You were shaking your head as Senator Nunn was asking a question of Dr. Ushakov about "don't the Soviets want to move into the 21st Century of information,” and you were shaking your head. I think that what Senator Nunn was saying, he was using it in terms of a metaphor.
Doctor, you talked about a sort of barbed-wire mentality that border represented to you. Senator Nunn was asking, does the Soviet leadership today still have a barbed-wire mentality, will they choose control over the prospect of economic prosperity.
At that particular time, Ms. Costa, you were shaking your head, they really don't want this. The question I would ask you is, do they prefer control or prosperty?
Ms. Costa. I firmly believe that without unleashing some kind of free enterprise the economy cannot become prosperous. They can shore it up, they can salvage it, it will creak along for generations. It is not about to collapse. It has been on the verge of collapse for a long time, but it is not about to collapse. It will go along, but it will not reach the true prosperity-and I firmly believe that-without unleashing the private initiative of the people.
So far, with all those half measures that have been undertaken, private initiative is still a rather undesirable quality. It is still a centralized economy with central party control. Without abolition of that-and don't see how Mr. Gorbachev can do that, with all due respect to him in what he is trying to do—and I certainly wish him the best, because, being a Russian, anything that can make life better there, I can only welcome-but there is only so far he can go.
If I may, Senator Cohen, comment on your diatribe about the law.
Senator COHEN. You mean dialogue. Ms. Costa. No, I mean diatribe. My English may not be that good but I know the difference. This was a perfect example of where the difference in mentalities comes it. Coming from the closed society, the Soviet Union, it is still difficult for me to understand that the law that is written on paper means anything at all.
The Soviet constitution is probably the most progressive one in the world. It grants you all kinds of freedoms: freedom of assembly, freedom of speech. Women have been declared equal to men in the Soviet Union 70 years ago. I came here and I looked at the practice, at the reality, and I can see that in 10 years women made more progress in this country than in 70 years in the Soviet Union.
I don't think in terms of legislation, I see the practical results. That is a very good example of why we still have to try to understand each other and each others' mentality and that is where defectors can make a contribution. My reaction is completely different from yours, because we grew up in a different culture, and that cannot be learned from books. That is why even the best American scholars sometimes have trouble understanding Soviet humor and Soviet reactions.
Senator COHEN. We can continue a dialogue or a diatribe about the virtues of law and the difference between a society in which there is law and justice and a society in which there is just law, but that is not our purpose here today.
I don't know whether any representative of the Soviet intelligence community is here in the audience today, I hope that someone from the CIA is here to listen to your testimony. I think it is terribly important, and I would hope that Senator Nunn, myself, and others, the staff who are here today, might find ways in which we can spread your message and advertise your talent, because I think that is something that we are sorely in need of and we should put your expertise to work in a very productive way.
My final point, I am going to contact the networks to make sure that the next time that either Mr. Vitaly Churkin or Mr. Posner go