Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 month ago

If the USSR was closed off and nobody could leave, how are there so many Russians in NYC?

The Russians in NYC were there before the dissolution of the USSR which makes no sense because the USSR did not allow people to leave their country, except for diplomats. 

How did they get there?

16 Answers

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  • Joseph
    Lv 7
    1 month ago
    Favorite Answer

    It wasn't completely closed off.  SOME people, e.g. government officials, athletes, musicians, ballet dancers were allowed to travel abroad on official business, but before they could leave they had to be given "good" recommendation by the Communist Party officials at their place of work, endorsed by the district Party Consul. They also had to be "instructed" on how to behave on the trip.  These rules applied to travel not only to the western countries, but also to the Communist countries like Poland and Bulgaria. 

    Once abroad, the people were under constant watch by the KGB officers attached to the group, the travelers had to stay together, no one was allowed to go off in a group of less than three people.  Violation of these rules meant that the person will never be allowed travel abroad ever again.  More serious violations could result in additional  punishment upon return.

    That being said, starting in late 1960s to early 1970s some emigration was allowed, though with great difficulty.  Things become a little easier after the US Congress passed the Trade Act of 1974, more specifically the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the act.  The amendment regulated the US trade relations with the non-free market countries that restrict, among other things, freedom of emigration.

    At the time, the signs of Soviet collapse were already becoming evident, most notably in agriculture, forcing the Soviet Union to buy wheat abroad, mostly in the US and Canada.  By letting people, mostly Jews but also some Baptists and ethnic Germans to emigrate the Soviets were able to maintain the Most Favored Nation status which allowed them to buy the US wheat at a lower price.  

    This is how my parents and I were allowed to emigrate from the USSR in 1978.  Essentially, the Soviets were trading us for wheat.  When we left we told the authorities  that were traveling to Israel to reunite with the family already living there.  

    Since, at the time, there were no flights between USSR and Israel, we had to travel to Austria first.  There, those who wanted to go to Israel were issued Israeli passports and in a few days they were in their new home.  Those wishing to go to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or other countries then were transported to Italy where they waited for their refugee status and entry visa paper work to come through, which, depending on destination, took 3 to 12 months.  Most people elected to go to the US; many settled in New York; and most of those settled in Brooklyn around Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay and along Ocean Avenue, with a smaller community in Forest Hills neighborhood in Queens.   

    After the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan and the US imposed sanctions against USSR, the Soviets restricted emigration again.  The travel and emigration restriction were lifted around 1987 when people were allowed not only to emigrate but also, heretofore almost unheard of, travel on private business, like visiting friends or family abroad. Many more people from the Soviet Union came to the US between 1987 and early 1990s.

    Source(s): Went through the experience at age of 14 in 1978.
  • 1 month ago

    There is no shortage of them in the Italian/French  riviera  zone  either.

    There is even a Russian Orthodox  Church here, with  some Czar or another buried in it's basement. 

  • hart
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    as a Jew ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Ludwig
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    They were all sent over to act as spies and fifth columnists by Stalin.

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  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    The simple answer is that people who professed to be religious Jews who wished to emigrate to Israel were often permitted to do so because Moscow didn't want to deal with the backlash from Jewish organisations who might have put pressure on them if they didn't allow those people the freedom to leave. 

    Of course, very, very few - if any, had any desire to actually go to Israel, so they'd get as far as Berlin or Vienna, Zurich or Paris, and then immediately apply for asylum in the United States. To qualify to emigrate from the Soviet Union they did have to prove that they were actually Jewish, and it was a well-known fact that Jews were openly discriminated against in the USSR, so they were almost always allowed into the US. 

    That's why all of the Soviet citizens that emigrated to the US in the 1970s and 1980s were ethnically Jewish. They were the only ones who were granted permission to leave the USSR. 

  • 1 month ago

    While emigration from the USSR was difficult it wasn't impossible and if you had the right connections it was even possible to get out with some of your stuff. Different USSR countries also had different rules so while it was hard to get out of Russia twords the end of the Cold War it wasn't as hard to emigrate from countries near by like Czechoslovakia. So people in Russia wishing to leave would sometimes immigrate to a different USSR country and then leave from there to go to the US or another country.

  • xyzzy
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    The USSR only lasted for 70 years. And immigration was restricted but never "closed off".

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    If (A) makes no sense then perhaps (B) is not accurate.

  • 1 month ago

    You are wrong.  During the USSR people were allowed to travel outside the country.  Of course they had to be select good Communists to get that privilege, but there were travelers from the USSR into the USA.  I know this as I met one back in the 1950s.  She was a gorgeous White Russian (Beloruss) with red hair and green eyes.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    the old USSR was VERY corrupt, so EVERYTHING was FOR SALE, even exit visas ............................

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