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A Study of Refusal

An article by two Soviet women on the problems of refuseniks has made its way into the United States, and is now available in English through the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry in New York.

“Psychological and Social Problems of Refusal,” an article by Moscow residents Victoria Gorelickova Khassin and Marta Balashinskaya Abra movich, originally appeared in a samizdat (underground) Soviet publication.

Written in the first- person plural, the work describes the experience of refuseniks from the moment they decide to apply for an exit visa. Going beyond an account of confrontations with authorities, the authors look at how the decision to emigrate affects family life.

“Persuasions and threats, accusations and quarrels often begin in families, sometimes leading to a complete disruption of relations,” the women wrote. “Fathers and sons, brothers and sisters become hostile strangers. Some friends, having well learned the lessons of the history of Soviet society, prefer to stop communicating with us.”

The authors conclude with these wrenching questions: “Will our children ever be able to recover from the emotional experiences they have gone through? How and when will they end?”