"It's a great victory for the forces of good," Edward Lozansky said last night, embracing his wife and daughter whom he hadn't seen for six years. "It's a victory not only for the Lozansky family, but for all good people."
"Yes, yes, yes," was what Tatyana Lozansky could say, as tears streamed down her face. Tanya, 11, looked dazed and said nothing.
This is the romance of a Soviet couple who met and married 12 years ago, were wrenched apart six years ago and reunited only last night. It is a romance that involved a "paper" divorce, an almost fatal hunger strike and the resignation of Tatyana's father, a top Soviet army general. Of all Soviet citizens allowed to emigrate to the West, she has the highest ranking relative; her departure apparently was decided on the highest level in the Kremlin.
"I can't believe it's happening," Edward Lozansky kept saying as he drove his new Oldsmobile 50 miles an hour last night through Washington's snow-covered streets to National Airport. "I can't believe she's really here." On the dashboard were long-stemmed red roses for his wife and press releases for everybody else, both of which he picked up on the way from his one-bedroom apartment in Northwest Washington. He had purchased $100 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables, and he had bought dozens of roses to decorate their home.
He had last seen Tatyana and Tanya six years and 10 days ago, at a Moscow train station, when he left his homeland for the West. He had struck a deal with Tatyana's father, Gen. Ivan Yershov: He agreed to divorce Tatyana "on paper" in order to unblock Yershov's promotion to become the head of Soviet civil defense; Tatyana and Tanya were to follow him within a year. The general reneged on his promise.
This past summer, just as Edward was giving up hope of ever seeing his family again, shy, apolitical Tatyana surprised everyone by organizing a hunger strike. But in the end it was her father, the original villain, who became a hero. "The general should be given credit," Edward now says. "For a true communist, loyalty to the Soviet state is everything, and the family does not count. He has saved his daughter. I forgive him for everything."
"It's a fairy tale. It's a miracle that she was allowed to leave, and the general's behavior was most un-Soviet," said a man from the CIA last night, one of about 100 people waiting for Tatyana and Tanya at the airport. The others included Russian e'migre's, Edward's sister and brother-in-law from Rochester, N.Y., and his friends from American University where he teaches mathematics and from Capitol Hill where he ran a one-man campaign to be reunited with his family.
Shortly after 6:30 last night, Tatyana and Tanya Lozansky landed in Washington swathed in heavy fur coats and boots. Tatyana, 5 feet 3, ran the five yards from the gate to the arms of the 6-feet-4 Edward, wearing a worn, brown duffle coat. The roses were crushed between them as they kept hugging and kissing one another.
Twice in her life, Tatyana, the beautiful gray-eyed daughter of a top-ranking Soviet general, put her life on the line for the man she loves, Edward Lozansky, a dissident Jewish intellectual, an enemy of the communist system. On both occasions, the one who tried every trick, but eventually gave up, was her father.
Yershov's resignation as a three-star general -- just a rank below marshal -- made it possible for Tatyana to be granted permission to emigrate. Giving up his position meant also losing his privileges, which included a lakeside vacation villa, a chauffeured luxury automobile and access to the super stores that serve the Soviet elite.
Their story, as Edward tells it, has the passions and intrigues of a Russian novel -- romantic love and separation, ruses and intrigues, and an abundance of private passions set against a seemingly unmovable, monster state.
It began some 12 years ago, when Margarita Yershov, the general's ambitious wife, was looking for a tutor in mathematics to prepare Tatyana, then 17 and a senior in high school, for the tough entrance examination at Moscow University. She wanted the best tutor, and her friends suggested Lozansky, then 26, son of a poor family from the provincial city of Kiev. But he had too many students, and his own preparations for his PhD were demanding. Margarita was insistent: Her daughter had to have nothing but the best. She offered him 7.50 rubles per hour instead of the usual 2.50, and Edward accepted. One ruble is equal to about $1.50.
It was love at first sight when Tatyana showed up for her first lesson at Edward's small, garret-like rented room. He invited her to see the movie "A Man and A Woman," and the following week they went to the theater. They started seeing each other every day. He introduced her to his friends, and for the first time, Tatyana, who with her brother had grown up in the cocoon of Soviet privilege, met people openly critical of the regime. She said nothing about her parents; even to Edward she only admitted that her father was an army officer. After four months, in 1970, they decided to marry.
Yershov was not happy that his only daughter was getting married to a fellow who insisted that he was Jewish, though he could easily have passed as a Russian. He liked the idea of a marriage even less when he found out that Edward was opposed to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Yershov boasted that he planned the military operation and took credit for its "clockwork precision."
Edward says he told him, "But the Czechs were right, and I hate the whole communist system." Yershov finally stopped arguing and said his future son-in-law should forget his dissident views and join the Party. Edward refused.
Yershov told his daughter that he wouldn't let her marry an enemy of the state.
Tatyana attempted suicide by swallowing a handful of sleeping pills. It took three days in the hospital to save her. After she recovered, Yershov agreed to the marriage, but asked Edward to keep his mouth shut about his anti-regime convictions.
Yershov was generous. He arranged for a two-bedroom apartment for the young couple -- a great luxury by Soviet standards. He arranged for Edward to get a job in the military academy. As a result of Yershov's intervention, Edward was also reinstated as a researcher at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy. He had lost that job because of his criticism of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Kurchatov "is an institution so secret that it has more KGB agents than physicists," says Edward.
Once a month, the general sent them special food packages unavailable to the average Soviet citizen. A military plane flew the young couple to a Black Sea resort for vacations. "It was a good life," Edward recalls. "I was happy doing my science, I loved my wife. And in December 1971 my wife gave birth to a lovely daughter, Tanya."
In 1974, however, Edward had enough of the good life. "The general thought he could buy me," Edward says, "but I just couldn't go along with what he offered." He was disgusted with his father-in-law's friends with whom he was invited to socialize; they were "too cynical" and "completely materialistic."
Tatyana told Edward to enjoy family life and not to fight the system. "Tatyana thought that the system was bad but fighting it was hopeless," Edward says. He was afraid to lose his old friends, many of whom were applying for emigration to Israel. "I felt guilt because my friends were being persecuted and I was living a good life."
In 1976, the Lozanskys applied for an exit visa. The immediate consequence of the application was that Yershov's promotion from two-star to three-star general was held up. Yershov first threatened Edward with incarceration in a mental hospital. Then he proposed a deal: a formal or "paper" divorce, after which he would guarantee an exit visa first to Edward, then -- after he received his promotion -- visas for Tatyana and Tanya. They would be reunited within a year, Edward says Yershov swore.
The divorce, a process that usually takes several months, took a day. Three months later, during which the couple continued to live together, Edward received his exit visa. It took that long, Yershov explained, because the KGB had to check on Edward who had worked in nuclear research.
On Dec. 2, 1976, Edward left for the United States, accompanied by his parents, two sisters and their families -- a total of nine people.
Shortly after Edward's departure, Yershov received his promotion. He became chief of staff of Soviet civil defense, a most prestigious post. But when Tatyana applied for emigration, her father told her that he would not give his assent and that she should forget about Edward.
Then began the six-year campaign by Edward to secure the release of his wife and daughter.
He got Nobel laureates and congressmen to sign petitions; he convinced French athletes to approach French Communist Party chief Georges Marchais to intervene directly with Leonid Brezhnev. French President Francois Mitterrand and Vice President George Bush got into the act. Lozansky got international publicity. Twice a week, he called his wife in Moscow; he thinks he may have been the first Soviet e'migre' to direct-dial high Soviet officials. He says he ran up $1,000 phone bills each month.
The general wrote to Edward that Tanya "became a shameless woman" and took up with other men. He told his daughter that Edward married a rich American widow.
It seemed hopeless. The general had too high a position; he could not afford to let his daughter go over to the enemy. Suddenly and without consulting Edward, Tatyana decided on a reckless strategy. Beginning May 10, she organized a hunger strike with six other Soviet citizens who were not allowed to join their spouses in the West. She telephoned Western correspondents and gave interviews; the hunger strike made news around the world. On the same day Tatyana started the hunger strike, she and Edward were remarried by Rabbi Joshua Haberman of the Washington Hebrew Congregation in a proxy ceremony witnessed by Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.).
She ignored threatening phone calls from the KGB, which followed her movements. Tanya was spat at in school. The KGB officers kept telling Tatyana, "You'll never see Edward again." Her answer was always the same: "We'll see."
One by one, four of her fellow strikers received permission to leave.
After 33 days, she weighed 60 pounds -- normally she is 120. She fainted, and the doctor from the American Embassy who examined her at Edward's request said that unless she stopped fasting, the damage to her health would become irreversible.
Edward tried to talk her out of continuing. "I'll be free or I'll die," Tatyana kept saying to him on the phone. "She was ready to die," Edward says. For the first time since his arrival in America, Edward called his father-in-law. "Your daughter is dying," he said. "As far as I am concerned, she is already dead," the general reportedly replied.
"Why don't you go to her apartment and say goodbye to her," Edward said to Yershov.
Edward's ploy worked. Seeing his daughter dying changed the general's feelings. After his second visit, he promised that if she stopped the fast, he would see to it that she got her exit visa.
Tatyana first reminded her father that he tricked her with the divorce. When the general said that he had assurances "from the highest level" that she could leave for the West, Tatyana relented.
On June 13, Tatyana stopped her fast.
The general told her he would have to resign before she would be allowed to go. In October, he did just that. "He is a peasant, and I sometimes hate him," Edward said of his father-in-law during the summer. "Sometimes I feel sorry for him. He's very loyal to the state, but he's a puppet."
Since Yershov's resignation, Edward has become protective of him. He quotes his father-in-law asking Tatyana, "Don't ruin me completely." Edward says his wife may decide not to say anything political, but he will continue speaking up.
Tatyana's departure was delayed several times. First there was Brezhnev's death. "I was worried to death," said Edward. Then Yershov asked to be present at Tanya's 11th birthday. Finally, last Friday, the KGB stopped Tatyana on the tarmac after she cleared customs and was preparing to board an Air France plane for Paris.
"They said they had to check out her ticket," Edward explained. "After waiting one hour, the Air France plane took off. Then the KGB suggested that she take the Aeroflot flight a few hours later. She refused, not wanting to fly on a Soviet plane, and rescheduled her flight for the next day, again on Air France.
"I don't know how she survived all that. She was very shy and never involved in politics. She has become a tough lady. She fought the Soviet system for six years. She is now a fighter. I have to get to know her again.
"I am worried about my daughter. She was brainwashed by her grandparents and in her school. I'll have to educate her."