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Deserter Wants to Go Home, Soviets Say

June 07, 1986|MARIANN HANSEN | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — A Soviet soldier who deserted in Afghanistan in 1983 and gained political asylum in the United States wants to go home, Soviet officials said Friday.

Alexander Voronov, 21, talked with officials at the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco on Wednesday and filled out an application to return to his native country, said Aleksday Yanvarev, a diplomat at the consulate. The paper work has been forwarded to the Soviet Union, Yanvarev said.

A spokesman for the State Department said officials are aware that Voronov, who lives in San Francisco, has "been in contact" with the Soviet Consulate.

Would Be Interviewed

"In the event that Mr. Voronov were to indicate that he wants to return to the Soviet Union he would be interviewed by United States authorities to ensure that his decision was voluntary," State Department spokesman Philip Savitz said. "This is standard practice in such cases."

Voronov could not be reached for comment.

Savitz said figures were unavailable on how many Soviet deserters have sought to return to their native country.

Nikolai Ryzhkov, another Soviet who deserted in Afghanistan, returned to the Soviet Union in 1984 after living in New York City and Washington.

In January, 1985, the Soviet Union publicly acknowledged--through its official news agency Tass--that Ryzhkov had defected from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, but that the defection was exceptional.

Different Story

Tass also reported then that Voronov had told the Soviet Embassy in Washington that he wanted to return to his native country, but that the State Department was dragging its feet on his case. Tass claimed that Voronov was captured by rebels and beaten before going to the United States.

Voronov and Ryzhkov identified themselves as deserters during a news conference in Brussels in 1983.

Yanvarev said there are hundreds of Soviet citizens living in the United States. Normally, it takes several weeks or "a couple of months" for the Soviet Union to reply to requests for return to the country, he said.

"But because he (Voronov) deserted, his is a special case" and it may take longer than normal for Soviet authorities to respond, Yanvarev said.

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