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Gardena Woman Finds Disappointment on Soviets' List

November 21, 1985|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

Gardena resident Gohar Rezian was not one of the lucky ones.

In the flurry of pre-summit maneuvering last week, Soviet authorities agreed to let 10 of their citizens join spouses in the United States, after repeated rejections of their applications to emigrate.

But Rezian's husband Poghos was not on the list. "I was really happy for these people," Rezian said, referring to the spouses about to be reunited. "Then I was kind of disappointed that I was not one of them."

Rezian, 27, keeps hoping that her husband will be released soon. She talked to State Department officials after the disappointing announcement.

Keep Fighting

"They said we are not going to be quiet. They said they are going to fight for this until the last person is released," she said.

Rezian said she does not know why Soviet authorities left Poghos, also 27, off the list.

Her husband, high school sweetheart in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, works in the Lenin Factory there making machine parts. She left with her family in 1981 and returned half a year later to marry him.

"We had everything planned. I would go back, get married, register our marriage papers, send him the invitation and in two or three months, he would get his permission and he would come," she said.

It didn't work out that way.

Denied Three Times

His application for an exit visa was denied three times. The KGB said he knew state secrets because he had been in a special unit when he was a draftee in the Red Army between 1976 and 1978. He told Rezian that he worked in an army construction unit near Novosibirsk in Siberia.

Rezian took time off last week from her job as a clinical laboratory assistant in Torrance to join an intense lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., organized by spouses and their supporters and aimed at publicizing the plight of the separated families. Before last week's announcement, the State Department said 25 couples were separated because the Soviets have repeatedly denied permission to emigrate.

For an immigrant who still feels new to this country, the week was a whirlwind through Washington in the throes of pre-summit fever. Rezian was interviewed by television newscasters and appeared on a talk show.

"We have met with 10 senators. We met with Mr. (Michael H.) Armacost (undersecretary of state for political affairs). We stayed at his office probably half an hour. He talked individually to each one of us. The bottom line is the issue is going to be brought up at the summit, probably by the President."

Disorienting Attention

Rezian said all the attention has been gratifying, if somewhat disorienting.

"I wish it was for something else, for something that I have done that is good, but I hope that it helps. I hope it brings us together. I believe that it helps. People were released already," she said.

Another Californian disappointed by the Soviets' list is Mike Smith of Reseda.

Smith, 36, an employee of Northern Telecom Inc., has refused talk publicly about the plight of his wife Nina for years. He decided to talk after learning his wife's name was not on the list of people permitted to emigrate.

"I have been hopeful in the past and things haven't worked out. But now with the summit, there is a lot being done by a lot of people, the President, the State Department, senators. If I am going to say anything at all, now is the time do it," Smith said.

"I don't want to say anything that might sound anti-Soviet or sarcastic in any way. Right now for the first time in 4 1/2 years, there seems to be a good possibility that she might be allowed to leave."

Hard to Take

The news that his wife was not on the list was hard to take.

"I'm going through a lot of turmoil. When I first heard that people were going to be released, I was in a daze. You try not to get too excited because there have been several letdowns. I found out . . . that she was not on the list. Obviously that was a huge letdown," he said.

"There doesn't seem to be a pattern" to how those permitted to leave were chosen, he said. "I am still hopeful there will be more people released before the summit, or soon anyway."

He met his wife Nina in Moscow in 1980 while he was there working for ITT.

"I met her through a friend. A friend of mine was seeing her friend," he said. Smith returned to the Soviet Union the following year and the two were married in April, 1981.

Six-Month Wait

He said he figured she would be out in six months, the typical wait. But in September, 1981, Nina's application to emigrate was rejected.

"I made a trip over there in November and I was told unofficially that it might be three years before she got out," he said.

Nina, now 30, had worked for a Soviet construction organization and Soviet officials told her that the secret nature of her work barred her from leaving.

"She had a security clearance to work on a particular project but it wasn't anything strategic. She is reluctant to tell me what she did. I don't think she anticipated being held up for that reason," he said.

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