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3 Days in Moscow Enough for Reverse Emigres : Family That Went Back After 10 Years in U.S. Decides It Made a Mistake

November 14, 1986|Associated Press

MOSCOW — A family of emigres who returned home this week after 10 years in the United States because they felt like "eternal immigrants" want to go back because the teen-age boys are unhappy in the Soviet Union, the mother said Thursday.

Faina Gonta said the U.S. Embassy told her that she and her family could leave Saturday on a British Airways flight to London, but they had not yet obtained tickets or exit visas.

Gonta said she has nothing against the Soviet Union. Neither the decision to return to the Soviet Union nor the desire to leave again was politically motivated, she said.

"Everything is fine except the children," she said in a telephone interview. "They grew up in the U.S.A. and they want to continue their education in America."

Arrived Monday

The Gontas, who lived in Jersey City, N.J., arrived here Monday and were ready to go back after three days.

Government permission is necessary for the family to leave. Gonta said the request has been relayed to the Motherland Society, which sponsored their return to the Soviet Union.

"They think we're going back to my native city in the Ukraine, but we are going back to the United States and that is final," she said.

A Soviet official visited them at their hotel Thursday, Gonta said, but she would not identify the official or describe the meeting.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Jaroslav Verner confirmed that the Gontas have been in touch with the mission seeking to return to the United States. His office said later there will be no further comment because of rules about individual privacy.

'Eternal Immigrants'

David and Faina Gonta emigrated 10 years ago with their two children and her mother. They returned Monday and said they had felt like "eternal immigrants."

The official press trumpeted their arrival as part of its publicity campaign about emigres who are unhappy in the United States. On Tuesday, the newspaper Soviet Russia quoted Faina Gonta as saying at the airport that her sons Alexander, 19, and Igor, 14, were "beaten and mocked in school."

It also quoted her as saying: "Here are our American passports. We don't need them any more. The nightmare which lasted 10 long years is at last behind us."

She confirmed Thursday that she had made the comments and said she and her husband were unhappy in America, "but wherever my children are, that's where my place is."

She denied reports from the United States that the passports were confiscated and that the family was confined to a hotel after refusing to read a government-prepared statement at the airport Monday.

"The passports were not taken from us," she said. "We are free to come and go, and I think Soviet officials are handling this just as U.S. officials would."

Expected Happier Life

Alexander and Igor had agreed with the decision to return to the Soviet Union, she said, and "we planned to come here to be reunited with our family. I thought life would be happier for us. Now the children say, 'We don't care about your relatives. We want to go back.' "

"Alexander didn't realize how good it was for him in the States," she said.

Alicia George, aide to Rep. Frank J. Guarini (D-N.J.) said Wednesday in Washington that a loan of about $9,000 has been arranged through Faina Gonta's former employer, the New American Credit Union of Jersey City, to pay the family's way back to America.

Soviet officials say they have 1,000 applications from emigres who wish to return. The Kremlin has publicized recent arrivals to bolster the official contention that those who leave are not happy in the West.

Most notable of those returning was Josef Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, who came back in 1985 with her teen-age daughter, Olga Peters. She left again 17 months later, last April, saying Olga wanted to continue her English education.

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