From a prison state to a dream country, now endangered

Lev Navrozov

To emigrate to America from “Soviet Russia” was like going to live on some distant planet reproducing your favorite country: A dream.

But one fine day those who ruled Russia decided to stage an unusual experiment: they allowed several hundred “Soviet citizens” to emigrate from the “Soviet paradise.”

Naturally, we were highly suspicious: you express your desire to leave the country, after which they will put you and your family on a bus which will take you straight to the Committee of State Security! Such things happened before.

Nothing left to lose in a Soviet gulag.

The year was 1971, and by that time we were already aware of the fact that about a dozen “Soviet people” had already emigrated and were living abroad.

Nevertheless, we wanted to play it safe and telephoned one of the first Soviet émigrés whom we personally knew and who was already living abroad if he still thought all of that was for real. He reassured us: he is abroad, and he is alive and happy!

Those in charge of the emigration services had with us a lengthy conversation to reassure their officials that our intentions were quite sincere: we just wanted simply and quietly to emigrate, something that had so far been denied to the Soviet citizens. “But why do you want to emigrate? What displeased you?” — they still wanted us to answer that question.

“That’s not the point,” I said. “You see, my wife and I devoted our lives to the study of the English language. Our son also is studying it. We, as well as my mother, would love to live for a while in an English-speaking country.”

You see? The Soviet powers that be “gave us everything”! They, however, could not create for us an England or America!

The State Security person found it plausible and useful that for such people like us the experience of living in an English-speaking country will broaden “our horizon,” as they put it, and our knowledge of those countries.

Well, this year it will be forty years since the Soviet regime (unbeknownst to itself!) treated us so generously!

As a young man, I as well as my wife fell in love with the English-speaking countries, which to us were incarnations of freedom, and nothing creates a more passionate love of freedom than living in a free country.

Incidentally, it is not just freedom that evokes a newcomer’s love for the English-speaking countries. We admired English literature, including its poetry, for like some other Russians we could not live without poetry.

Emigration is like a “second life.” As Soviet “Russian subjects,” we had never before spent a day in a foreign country. Now we were living this second life, a translated novel of life.

It’s been forty years since my wife and I have been enjoying the second volume of our lives!

As for today’s Russia, the country we left behind, life there seems to have been improving. In Stalin’s time, evidently there could be only one hell, and that was our life under Stalin, who died in 1953, when I was 25 years of age. But Stalin certainly taught us all how to love and appreciate freedom and long for it. Some nations do not know this love, and their countries are ready to descend into hell if they are not in hell already.

Many nations have been living without freedom for millennia, and they still live along as nations of millennia ago. In the English-speaking countries, freedom is not just one of the possible alternatives, but it is as valuable as life itself. As a prisoner sings in a Russian folk song:

Give me my freedom,
Take off the chains,
I will teach you
How freedom is to be loved.

We dread to think that the freedom in this unique country we came to love so much is being constantly challenged and endangered by President Obama’s foreign policies, and in particular by his close friendship with the communist Chinese dictators, to whom he panders by giving them access to American secret military bases, and who are trying to disarm this country by buying and/or stealing American latest military technology thereby increasing their own military might.

The Chinese slave owners understand that the very existence of the free democratic countries, and the strong United States in particular, is the greatest threat to their dictatorship.

Lev Navrozov can be reached by e-mail at

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