Soviet Rebuff ‘Honors’ Santa Cruz Prof

 

By Don Wilson

Staff Writer

 

SANTA CRUZ - Dissident Soviet writer Victor Sokolov has been stripped of his Russian citizenship for "defaming" his mother country.

Sokolov, 29-year-old part-time instructor at the University of California here, said he is "honored" by the action of the Supreme Soviet. He said it places him "on a plane with such people as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Maximov, Valery Chalidze and Zhores Medvedev," who, he said, are the other persons stripped of Soviet citizenship in recent times.

He also said the action was, "rash" because he doesn't feel that he’s important enough a writer to have had any real damaging effect the Soviet government. But, he said, he will "strive to merit the high honor."

Sokolov is a writer who has regularly published articles critical of the Soviet Union since he was able to leave Russia in November, 1975. He has been writing for "Kontinent," a journal published in Paris by Vladimir Maximov; "Russian Thought," a weekly newspaper in Paris; "Posev," a journal in Frankfurt, Germany; "Russian Life," a San Francisco daily paper, and "New Russian Word," a New York daily.

While still in Russia, Sokolov had been "heavily involved" in the dissident movement, writing critical articles for "Samizdat," the underground press. Several of his articles made their way out of the Soviet Union and were published in the Russian Press in the West or, broadcast over Radio Liberty.

He also was a member of Amnesty International in Moscow.

Sokolov was allowed to leave the Soviet Union marrying an American woman, the former Barbara Wrahtz in June, 1975.

Miss Wrahtz was graduated from the University of California here, with a major in Russian literature, and moved to Moscow for a year of what had been intended as a study. She ended with a job at the United States Embassy there and met Sokolov at a party.

About three months later "after an incredible amount of red tape," they were married and as the spouse of an American, Sokolov was allowed to apply for and received permission to leave the country. His wife was allowed to leave Russia soon afterward and Sokolov followed in November.

The ease of their departure has been credited to the fact that Mrs. Sokolov had worked as a governess for the family of Hedrick Smith, then Moscow correspondent for the New York Times, before going to work for the Embassy. And, both Sokolov and his bride were well-known to the International Press in Moscow.

They came to Santa Cruz where he began studying English at Santa Cruz High School, where Mrs. Sokolov is now a student teacher. He since has been teaching Russian language at the university.

They serve as "house parents" at Descarte Cottage, a student residence hall on the campus.

Sokolov's parents and his sister, Olga, 22, still live in Russia, where Olga is a student at the university in Kalinin.

Oddly, it was Sokolov's attempts recently to start preparations toward getting his parents here for a visit which brought him news of his loss of citizenship.

"In the case of the others," said Sokolov, "it was many months after the Supreme Soviet passed the law stripping them of their citizenship before they found out about it."

He had written to the Russian Consulate in San Francisco asking for papers to fill out to apply for permission to bring his parents here.

Instead of complying, the consulate wrote to him Wednesday, notifying him that he was no longer citizen of the Soviet Union, having been stripped of citizenship in September.

The consul also asked him to turn in his passport "since it is the property of the Soviet Union."

Sokolov said he "probably" will send the passport "since I do want to offer any complications which might interfere in my attempt to get my parents here for a visit."

 

The San Jose [CA] Mercury, Friday Morning, November 19, 1976, p. 1