FOR MOST NEWSPAPER readers, the story of 16-year-old Andrei Berezhkov's attempt to escape from his parents' house in Washington, his letters to President Reagan and The New York Times and, finally, his return to the Soviet Union was just another international drama, but for me it was an emotional experience. I, too, am the son of a senior Soviet official who became disillusioned with the U.S.S.R. at a young age. I too plotted an escape, though over a much longer time than young Berezhkov. Mercifully, my plot succeeded.

Attempts by children of the Soviet establishment to emigrate or defect to the West are hardly a novelty. Sixteen years ago, Joseph Stalin's daughter Svetlana flew to India, and two years ago, 15-year-old Stepan Djigarkhanian, son of a Soviet movie star, tried to seek refuge and asylum in the Belgian embassy in Moscow. The other 15-year-old who had joined him in this aborted effort was Khachatur Muradian, the son of a well known sculptor. "We are afraid of losing our youth in this country," they told Belgian diplomats in the embassy. "All forms of dissent are punished. At schools they teach us only lies."

A handful of cases does not make a trend, but I think the Soviet Union has a real problem on its hands. We may have entered an era of protracted conflict between the children of the Soviet elite and the system that their parents administer.

Yuri Andropov recently told a meeting of elderly "party veterans" in Moscow that the Soviet Union has no generation gap, but anyone who has lived in that country knows this is just wishful thinking. If Andropov and his colleagues don't face up to it, the generation gap will cause them serious difficulties.

The life styles of the children of the Soviet elite might not appeal to Western teenagers, but by the standards of "regular" Soviet kids, they could hardly be described as "lost youth."

As another Soviet defector, Vladimir Sakharov, the son of a diplomatic courier, pointed out in his book "High Treason," the standard of living of high officials in Moscow resemble those of the American upper middle class, at least in some material respects. They have expensive western clothing, Japanese video recorders and Sears home appliances -- all unthinkable for the ordinary Soviet citizen. Even their food and drink usually come from special stores not open to ordinary comrades.

But even these privileges and status symbols (not to mention the excellent career prospects) do not deter a substantial number of children of the Soviet Union's privileged class from rebelling against their fathers' values. I know this from personal experience.

Ironically, the privileges of the Soviet elite actually contribute to the disillusionment of the younger generation. These young people have access to an unusual amount of uncensored information about Soviet society because of their parents' position, and they can enjoy a much broader exposure to Western culture than the normal Soviet young person. I grew up as an "army brat" on military bases across the western Soviet Union. My father was a high- ranking political officer in the elite strategic rocket forces and, because of his position, we enjoyed a good standard of living, a three-bedroom apartment, a chauffeured limousine, country dacha and other official perks.

My father, who strongly believes in the party policy and final victory of communism, seemed never to experience even the slightest trace of doubt. He joined the Communist Party at 18. It might be some irony of fate that my career in the Soviet establishment almost mirrored my father's, though secretly my political beliefs were gradually becoming more and more hostile to his.

My disillusionment with the system began when I started to think more seriously about life. I was then a high school student about Andrei Berezhkov's age. In Russian schools, at that age, you begin to learn about the great writers like Tolstoi, Dostoevsky and Chekhov. You start to think about freedom and morality, and you start to compare. You can see the contradictions between the literature you are studying and Soviet reality. The books talked about internal responsibility; they said that human values are eternal.

By the time you reach maturity, nobody considers any deviating beliefs to be worthy of respect. Even in elementary school, when you are trying to say something a little different, your teachers tell you to shut up, then report you to your parents.

My situation was made worse by the fact that my father was not just a regular oppressed Soviet citizen but one of those in charge of this indoctrination process. And for me -- and probably for other children of the "new class" -- my father was the embodiment of the state's position, some sort of Kremlin "official representative" at home.

In an attempt to find alternative sources of information, I turned to Western broadcasts. Listening to them gradually became an important part of my life. I began to study Polish and Czech because the press in these Warsaw Pact countries, although under heavy pressure from communist censors, offered a much wider variety of opinions and reported some news that the Soviet media omitted.

During the "Prague Spring," I and my friends became fascinated with the developments in Czechoslovakia. We thought that there was still hope, a chance that the positive changes would also become possible in the communist system.

It was a big blow to me when Soviet troops marched into Czechoslovakia to terminate the reforms blossoming there. What shocked me even more was that many of the people around me did not even comdemn this brutal invasion. At that time, when I was 17, conflicts with my father, whom I held responsible for the actionssof the Soviet government, became unbearable, and I decided to leave home and enter the University of Vilnius in Lithuania.

Living alone in a big city, I learned what the life of regular people really entailed. The housing facilities at the university were so inadequate that often 10 or 12 people were forced to share a room.

It was through a Jewish widow in Vilnius who rented me a room in her crowded apartment that I first learned of the systematic discrimination practiced against people of her faith. I eventually befriended many Jewish fellows whose relatives had emigrated to Israel and the United States. The letters and photographs they showed me helped make my image of the West much more realistic and increasingly distant from the one I was taught in college.

Nevertheless, majoring in 19th century Russian literature, I still had the illusion that it would be possible for me to become a college professor and live remote from government policy. When the time of my graduation came, however, the government relieved me of the problem of searching for a suitable job.

I was called up with my father's help for two years of army service, and it made no difference how I tried to resist. I was given the rank of lieutenant and sent to a motorized division.

Because of my training and family background, I was given a chance to become a political officer. After consulting with a college friend who told me that the political officers enjoyed more independence and free time than the field commanders, the choice was clear.

In late 1973, I was appointed secretary of the Komsomol (Young Communist League) committee of the rifle regiment and entered the ranks of the political workers. Like most Soviet youngsters, I had joined the Komsomol in my teens. I never really believed in the ideals this organization claims to propagate, but membership in it was a prerequisite for entering college. Now, as part of my duties as a political officer, I was to recruit as many soldiers as possible into the organization and further their political indoctrination.

During their years in the military, Soviet conscripts are subjected to a system of about the great writers like Tolstoi, Dostoevsky and Chekhov. You start to think about freedom and morality, and you start to compare. You can see the contradictions between the literature you are studying and Soviet reality. The books talked about internal responsibility; they said that human values are eternal.

By the time you reach maturity, nobody considers any deviating beliefs to be worthy of respect. Even in elementary school, when you are trying to say something a little different, your teachers tell you to shut up, then report you to your parents.

My situation was made worse by the fact that my father was not just a regular oppressed Soviet citizen but one of those in charge of this indoctrination process. And for me -- and probably for other children of the "new class" -- my father was the embodiment of the state's position, some sort of Kremlin "official representative" at home.

In an attempt to find alternative sources of information, I turned to Western broadcasts. Listening to them gradually became an important part of my life. I began to study Polish and Czech because the press in these Warsaw Pact countries, although under heavy pressure from communist censors, offered a much wider variety of opinions and reported some news that the Soviet media omitted.

During the "Prague Spring," I and my friends became fascinated with the developments in Czechoslovakia. We thought that there was still hope, a chance that the positive changes would also become possible in the communist system.

It was a big blow to me when Soviet troops marched into Czechoslovakia to terminate the reforms blossoming there. What shocked me even more was that many of the people around me did not even comdemn this brutal invasion. At that time, when I was 17, conflicts with my father, whom I held responsible for the actionssof the Soviet government, became unbearable, and I decided to leave home and enter the University of Vilnius in Lithuania.

Living alone in a big city, I learned what the life of regular people really entailed. The housing facilities at the university were so inadequate that often 10 or 12 people were forced to share a room.

It was through a Jewish widow in Vilnius who rented me a room in her crowded apartment that I first learned of the systematic discrimination practiced against people of her faith. I eventually befriended many Jewish fellows whose relatives had emigrated to Israel and the United States. The letters and photographs they showed me helped make my image of the West much more realistic and increasingly distant from the one I was taught in college.

Nevertheless, majoring in 19th century Russian literature, I still had the illusion that it would be possible for me to become a college professor and live remote from government policy. When the time of my graduation came, however, the government relieved me of the problem of searching for a suitable job.

I was called up with my father's help for two years of army service, and it made no difference how I tried to resist. I was given the rank of lieutenant and sent to a motorized division.

Because of my training and family background, I was given a chance to become a political officer. After consulting with a college friend who told me that the political officers enjoyed more independence and free time than the field commanders, the choice was clear.

In late 1973, I was appointed secretary of the Komsomol (Young Communist League) committee of the rifle regiment and entered the ranks of the political workers. Like most Soviet youngsters, I had joined the Komsomol in my teens. I never really believed in the ideals this organization claims to propagate, but membership in it was a prerequisite for entering college. Now, as part of my duties as a political officer, I was to recruit as many soldiers as possible into the organization and further their political indoctrination.

During their years in the military, Soviet conscripts are subjected to a system of indoctrination that is extraordinarily rigorous and extensive, even by the standards of the U.S.S.R. Besides the four hours a week of political classes, virtually every opportunity, including all forms of leisure or entertainment, is used for the purpose of indoctrination.

The impact of this massive ideological campaign is especially strong on 18- and 19-year-old conscripts. They cannot seek alternatives in Western broadcasts: possession of shortwave radios is strictly forbidden for Soviet soldiers. My years in the army changed my life. For the first time, I became a cog in the giant Soviet lie machine, a machine which I subsequently learned to hate. I came to realize that the Soviet system is designed in such a way as to prohibit any opportunity for me to remain removed from politics. No matter who you are -- college professor, truck driver or even an Orthodox priest -- you still have to participate.

I realized that if I wanted to remain honest with myself, I had to pick one of two paths -- one leading to prison camp and the other to the West. By then, I had been already fairly well exposed to Western culture. I was fascinated with British and American literature, with psychoanalysis and French structuralism. I loved jazz and rock music, and Mick Jagger was among my favorites (as he is now for Andrei Berezhkov).

But most of all I needed all those natural and basic freedoms which only the West could offer. A place where I could buy and read any book or newspaper available in the world, including the works of my countrymen that had been banned in the U.S.S.R., seemed to me like something very close to paradise.

But how could I do this? I could not emigrate legally. The idea of a fictive marriage would not work because of my father's position, and besides, I could not accept it for moral reasons.

Cross the border illegally? Almost impossible (although I did consider this option as a last resort).

For a while I was close to despair. For the Western reader, it is probably hard to imagine how stifling it is to feel virtually imprisoned in the very country where you were born, where all the people you have ever known or loved live.

The solution I devised was not the simplest one, but it was probably the best in my case. I knew that party and Komsomol officials are among the very few Soviet citizens permitted to travel abroad. After my discharge from the army, I decided to continue my career in the Young Communist League, and this way earn my visa and defect in the first Western country I could. That was the beginning of my secret plan, which took five years to carry out.

After completing military service, I was transferred to the reserves as an officer of the Komsomol section of the Baltic military district political administration. Then I accepted a proposition to become an inspector for the Latvian Komsomol's central committee in Riga. Taking this job in the Komsomol was my first official step into the ranks of the so-called nomenklatura, or the new Soviet class of the privileged.

Working under the strict control of the Communist Party, the Komsomol has at its disposal a vast, elaborate ideological machine that includes newspapers, radio stations and publishing houses. Charged by the party with indoctrination of Soviet youth, the Komsomol plays the role of a kind of "ministry for youth affairs." Its vast bureaucracy includes numerous departments dealing with such subjects as propaganda and agitation, military-patriotic education, culture and art, athletics, foreign tourism and so forth.

The net of primary Komsomol organizations and committees that exists in every factory, institution and educational establishment places the young Soviet person in a situation where on every important issue in his life -- frommacquiring an obligatory recommendation for university admission to obtaining a ticket to the local disco -- he has to deal with the Komsomol, and, in one way or another, to conform with its ideology.

I worked in the central indoctrination that is extraordinarily rigorous and extensive, even by the standards of the U.S.S.R. Besides the four hours a week of political classes, virtually every opportunity, including all forms of leisure or entertainment, is used for the purpose of indoctrination.

The impact of this massive ideological campaign is especially strong on 18- and 19-year-old conscripts. They cannot seek alternatives in Western broadcasts: possession of shortwave radios is strictly forbidden for Soviet soldiers. My years in the army changed my life. For the first time, I became a cog in the giant Soviet lie machine, a machine which I subsequently learned to hate. I came to realize that the Soviet system is designed in such a way as to prohibit any opportunity for me to remain removed from politics. No matter who you are -- college professor, truck driver or even an Orthodox priest -- you still have to participate.

I realized that if I wanted to remain honest with myself, I had to pick one of two paths -- one leading to prison camp and the other to the West. By then, I had been already fairly well exposed to Western culture. I was fascinated with British and American literature, with psychoanalysis and French structuralism. I loved jazz and rock music, and Mick Jagger was among my favorites (as he is now for Andrei Berezhkov).

But most of all I needed all those natural and basic freedoms which only the West could offer. A place where I could buy and read any book or newspaper available in the world, including the works of my countrymen that had been banned in the U.S.S.R., seemed to me like something very close to paradise.

But how could I do this? I could not emigrate legally. The idea of a fictive marriage would not work because of my father's position, and besides, I could not accept it for moral reasons.

Cross the border illegally? Almost impossible (although I did consider this option as a last resort).

For a while I was close to despair. For the Western reader, it is probably hard to imagine how stifling it is to feel virtually imprisoned in the very country where you were born, where all the people you have ever known or loved live.

The solution I devised was not the simplest one, but it was probably the best in my case. I knew that party and Komsomol officials are among the very few Soviet citizens permitted to travel abroad. After my discharge from the army, I decided to continue my career in the Young Communist League, and this way earn my visa and defect in the first Western country I could. That was the beginning of my secret plan, which took five years to carry out.

After completing military service, I was transferred to the reserves as an officer of the Komsomol section of the Baltic military district political administration. Then I accepted a proposition to become an inspector for the Latvian Komsomol's central committee in Riga. Taking this job in the Komsomol was my first official step into the ranks of the so-called nomenklatura, or the new Soviet class of the privileged.

Working under the strict control of the Communist Party, the Komsomol has at its disposal a vast, elaborate ideological machine that includes newspapers, radio stations and publishing houses. Charged by the party with indoctrination of Soviet youth, the Komsomol plays the role of a kind of "ministry for youth affairs." Its vast bureaucracy includes numerous departments dealing with such subjects as propaganda and agitation, military-patriotic education, culture and art, athletics, foreign tourism and so forth.

The net of primary Komsomol organizations and committees that exists in every factory, institution and educational establishment places the young Soviet person in a situation where on every important issue in his life -- frommacquiring an obligatory recommendation for university admission to obtaining a ticket to the local disco -- he has to deal with the Komsomol, and, in one way or another, to conform with its ideology.

I worked in the central committee of the Latvian Komsomol for three years. Then I was promoted to first secretary of the Komsomol Committee in the resort city of Jurmala near Riga, where I remained until my first (and last) trip to the West.

The job as a Komsomol official seemed to offer everything that a young person might desire. By 27, I had become one of the most influential men in the city, with a chauffeured limousine, a spacious apartment, a summer house, access to all the special stores and plenty of money. My special status made me exempt from any kind of legal prosecution. A brilliant party career was all but guaranteed.

But at the same time, these were the worst years of my life. I was witness to many more of the dark sides of Soviet life than ordinary citizens ever see. Yet I could not share my thoughts with anyone because such talk could have seriously jeopardized my plans to defect.

I was very sympathetic to the dissident movements both in Russia and Latvia, but for the same reasons I could not contact any of them. All these mounting pressures and frustrations, combined with the constant necessity to wear the mask of the loyal Komsomol functionary, made my final years in the Soviet Union some kind of a "moral hell."

At least there were two areas of interest to me where I was able to find some measure of refuge from everyday pressures. I initiated one of the Soviet Union's first disco clubs, which we managed to justify to the authorities as "a useful and educational form of recreation." In this club, we also held exhibitions of works by young artists whose styles often departed from the officially- blessed socialist realism. My fascination with jazz led me to become a regular free-lance contributor to the musical programs of Radio Riga.

Meanwhile, my plan to defect was drawing ever closer to fulfillment. Even for Komsomol officials, a trip to the West is a privilege none too easy to obtain. Five years must pass before you can even be considered eligible for the visa and get permission to go. First you must visit one of the Warsaw Pact countries and prove that your behavior abroad is "appropriate for a Soviet man." After that you must wait three more years for permission to visit the West.

To secure the quickest possible ticket out I befriended the "right people," drank enormous amounts of vodka with various officials, granted innumerable favors and even paid bribes. Finally, in July 1979, I got my visa to Italy. I was scheduled to go as a member of a Soviet tourist group composed of Komsomol activists.

Just prior to departure, an important official invited me for a confidential talk. After briefing me about "the dangerous provocations of the imperialists," he put his hand on my shoulder and declared: "If all our citizens were like you, Sergei, I would feel sure that no one would defect."

Inwardly I smiled, but I knew I could not begin to relax until after the gates of Moscow's Sheremyetevo Airport had slammed shut behind my departing back.

On the last stop on my 10-day tour of Italy, we were in Milan. I left my young charges waiting for me on the bus and began snapping their photographs from the sidewalk. I moved further and further away from the vehicle. Then I abruptly turned, walked down a long alley, and ducked into a little cafe, where I ordered a drink and tried to look inconspicious for about an hour, behind a large newspaper.

I had chosen Milan because -- to the best of my knowledge -- the local KGB section there (unlike the one in Rome) did not possess a photo of me and therefore could not organize a quick "rescue operation."

But I could never have expected that the major obstacle to my defection would be not the KGB but an Italian clerk at the U.S. consulate who happened to speak little English. This woman asked me for my documents. I told her that our tour leader had all the passports. She brusquely advised me that in such a case she could not help me, that I should go to a local police station that deals with probld inem committee of the Latvian Komsomol for three years. Then I was promoted to first secretary of the Komsomol Committee in the resort city of Jurmala near Riga, where I remained until my first (and last) trip to the West.

The job as a Komsomol official seemed to offer everything that a young person might desire. By 27, I had become one of the most influential men in the city, with a chauffeured limousine, a spacious apartment, a summer house, access to all the special stores and plenty of money. My special status made me exempt from any kind of legal prosecution. A brilliant party career was all but guaranteed.

But at the same time, these were the worst years of my life. I was witness to many more of the dark sides of Soviet life than ordinary citizens ever see. Yet I could not share my thoughts with anyone because such talk could have seriously jeopardized my plans to defect.

I was very sympathetic to the dissident movements both in Russia and Latvia, but for the same reasons I could not contact any of them. All these mounting pressures and frustrations, combined with the constant necessity to wear the mask of the loyal Komsomol functionary, made my final years in the Soviet Union some kind of a "moral hell."

At least there were two areas of interest to me where I was able to find some measure of refuge from everyday pressures. I initiated one of the Soviet Union's first disco clubs, which we managed to justify to the authorities as "a useful and educational form of recreation." In this club, we also held exhibitions of works by young artists whose styles often departed from the officially- blessed socialist realism. My fascination with jazz led me to become a regular free-lance contributor to the musical programs of Radio Riga.

Meanwhile, my plan to defect was drawing ever closer to fulfillment. Even for Komsomol officials, a trip to the West is a privilege none too easy to obtain. Five years must pass before you can even be considered eligible for the visa and get permission to go. First you must visit one of the Warsaw Pact countries and prove that your behavior abroad is "appropriate for a Soviet man." After that you must wait three more years for permission to visit the West.

To secure the quickest possible ticket out I befriended the "right people," drank enormous amounts of vodka with various officials, granted innumerable favors and even paid bribes. Finally, in July 1979, I got my visa to Italy. I was scheduled to go as a member of a Soviet tourist group composed of Komsomol activists.

Just prior to departure, an important official invited me for a confidential talk. After briefing me about "the dangerous provocations of the imperialists," he put his hand on my shoulder and declared: "If all our citizens were like you, Sergei, I would feel sure that no one would defect."

Inwardly I smiled, but I knew I could not begin to relax until after the gates of Moscow's Sheremyetevo Airport had slammed shut behind my departing back.

On the last stop on my 10-day tour of Italy, we were in Milan. I left my young charges waiting for me on the bus and began snapping their photographs from the sidewalk. I moved further and further away from the vehicle. Then I abruptly turned, walked down a long alley, and ducked into a little cafe, where I ordered a drink and tried to look inconspicious for about an hour, behind a large newspaper.

I had chosen Milan because -- to the best of my knowledge -- the local KGB section there (unlike the one in Rome) did not possess a photo of me and therefore could not organize a quick "rescue operation."

But I could never have expected that the major obstacle to my defection would be not the KGB but an Italian clerk at the U.S. consulate who happened to speak little English. This woman asked me for my documents. I told her that our tour leader had all the passports. She brusquely advised me that in such a case she could not help me, that I should go to a local police station that deals with probld inem foreigners.

I was terrified that the KGB would have someone waiting for me at the police station, but I had no choice. Once more, disappointment awaited. It was siesta time, and worse yet, the lethargic police clerk who could not understand any of the five languages I spoke managed to suggest that I come back on Monday -- or better, since I seemed to be a Soviet citizen, that I go to the Soviet consulate for help.

After an agonizingly long wait, a senior officer arrived who at last understood that what I wanted was political asylum and not a new Soviet passport. I will never forget his smile.

After interrogation I was whisked away under guard to the refugee camp in northern Italy, where I stayed for 41/2 months, awaiting my American visa, feeling safer but still wary because of the KGB's heavy presence in Italy.

I was granted a visa and arrived in the United States just before Christmas. At 27, I was without home, family or money in a foreign land where I knew no one. But I felt like the happiest man in the world. I was free.

"I hate my country and its rules. I love your country. I want to stay here," wrote Andrei Berezhkov in his letter to The New York Times.

This statement might seem too strong to many people who never have lived under a totalitarian regime. I never hated my country, but I learned after becoming an important part of its cruel mechanism to hate its repressive regime and "rules."

At the same time, reading American authors, listening to all my favorite jazz recordings and meeting tourists, I grew to love America.

Some people might ask why Berezhkov could not declare that he wanted to remain in the United States when he was interviewed by the U.S. authorities. I don't think we know enough to answer this question. What was he doing during his escape in his father's car? Was his return voluntary and, if he did not write those letters, why was it his whole family was kept in the embassy compound at Tunlaw Road NW and not in their suburban apartment building?

It is not easy to talk about asylum with the Soviet authorities, especially when you know that for them this word is synonymous with "treason."

Andrei Berezhkov is 16 years old. He spent three years of his life, from 12 to 15, living in his father's apartment in suburban Washington. He was not subjected to the normal restrictions on the children of other Soviet diplomats who live in the official compound. After finishing eighth grade at the embassy school he was sent back to the Soviet Union to complete his high school education. Then this past summer he returned to Washington for a holiday.

The year that Andrei spent in the U.S.S.R. probably helped him to understand what the Soviet world really is. His return to Washington last June must have aroused mixed w0112 ----- r v BC-09/11/83F-RUSIA 6takes 09-11 C01 This Russia Was No Place For a Guy Like Me As Privileged As I Was, Anywhere Else Looked Better By Sergei Zamascikov

FOR MOST NEWSPAPER readers, the story of 16-year-old Andrei Berezhkov's attempt to escape from his parents' house in Washington, his letters to President Reagan and The New York Times and, finally, his return to the Soviet Union was just another international drama, but for me it was an emotional experience. I, too, am the son of a senior Soviet official who became disillusioned with the U.S.S.R. at a young age. I too plotted an escape, though over a much longer time than young Berezhkov. Mercifully, my plot succeeded.

Attempts by children of the Soviet establishment to emigrate or defect to the West are hardly a novelty. Sixteen years ago, Joseph Stalin's daughter Svetlana flew to India, and two years ago, 15-year-old Stepan Djigarkhanian, son of a Soviet movie star, tried to seek refuge and asylum in the Belgian embassy in Moscow. The other 15-year-old who had joined him in this aborted effort was Khachatur Muradian, the son of a well known sculptor. "We are afraid of losing our youth in this country," they told Belgian diplomats in the embassy. "All forms of dissent are punished. At schools they teach us only lies."

A handful of cases does not make a trend, but I think the Soviet Union has a real problem on its hands. We may have entered an era of protracted conflict between the children of the Soviet elite and the system that their parents administer.

Yuri Andropov recently told a meeting of elderly "party veterans" in Moscow that the Soviet Union has no generation gap, but anyone who has lived in that country knows this is just wishful thinking. If Andropov and his colleagues don't face up to it, the generation gap will cause them serious difficulties.

The life styles of the children of the Soviet elite might not appeal to Western teenagers, but by the standards of "regular" Soviet kids, they could hardly be described as "lost youth."

As another Soviet defector, Vladimir Sakharov, the son of a diplomatic courier, pointed out in his book "High Treason," the standard of living of high officials in Moscow resemble those of the American upper middle class, at least in some material respects. They have expensive western clothing, Japanese video recorders and Sears home appliances -- all unthinkable for the ordinary Soviet citizen. Even their food and drink usually come from special stores not open to ordinary comrades.

But even these privileges and status symbols (not to mention the excellent career prospects) do not deter a substantial number of children of the Soviet Union's privileged class from rebelling against their fathers' values. I know this from personal experience.

Ironically, the privileges of the Soviet elite actually contribute to the disillusionment of the younger generation. These young people have access to an unusual amount of uncensored information about Soviet society because of their parents' position, and they can enjoy a much broader exposure to Western culture than the normal Soviet young person. I grew up as an "army brat" on military bases across the western Soviet Union. My father was a high- ranking political officer in the elite strategic rocket forces and, because of his position, we enjoyed a good standard of living, a three-bedroom apartment, a chauffeured limousine, country dacha and other official perks.

My father, who strongly believes in the party policy and final victory of communism, seemed never to experience even the slightest trace of doubt. He joined the Communist Party at 18. It might be some irony of fate that my career in the Soviet establishment almost mirrored my father's, though secretly my political beliefs were gradually becoming more and more hostile to his.

My disillusionment with the system began when I started to think more seriously about life. I was then a high school student about Andrei Berezhkov's age. In Russian schools, at that age, you begin to learn foreigners.

I was terrified that the KGB would have someone waiting for me at the police station, but I had no choice. Once more, disappointment awaited. It was siesta time, and worse yet, the lethargic police clerk who could not understand any of the five languages I spoke managed to suggest that I come back on Monday -- or better, since I seemed to be a Soviet citizen, that I go to the Soviet consulate for help.

After an agonizingly long wait, a senior officer arrived who at last understood that what I wanted was political asylum and not a new Soviet passport. I will never forget his smile.

After interrogation I was whisked away under guard to the refugee camp in northern Italy, where I stayed for 41/2 months, awaiting my American visa, feeling safer but still wary because of the KGB's heavy presence in Italy.

I was granted a visa and arrived in the United States just before Christmas. At 27, I was without home, family or money in a foreign land where I knew no one. But I felt like the happiest man in the world. I was free.

"I hate my country and its rules. I love your country. I want to stay here," wrote Andrei Berezhkov in his letter to The New York Times.

This statement might seem too strong to many people who never have lived under a totalitarian regime. I never hated my country, but I learned after becoming an important part of its cruel mechanism to hate its repressive regime and "rules."

At the same time, reading American authors, listening to all my favorite jazz recordings and meeting tourists, I grew to love America.

Some people might ask why Berezhkov could not declare that he wanted to remain in the United States when he was interviewed by the U.S. authorities. I don't think we know enough to answer this question. What was he doing during his escape in his father's car? Was his return voluntary and, if he did not write those letters, why was it his whole family was kept in the embassy compound at Tunlaw Road NW and not in their suburban apartment building?

It is not easy to talk about asylum with the Soviet authorities, especially when you know that for them this word is synonymous with "treason."

Andrei Berezhkov is 16 years old. He spent three years of his life, from 12 to 15, living in his father's apartment in suburban Washington. He was not subjected to the normal restrictions on the children of other Soviet diplomats who live in the official compound. After finishing eighth grade at the embassy school he was sent back to the Soviet Union to complete his high school education. Then this past summer he returned to Washington for a holiday.

The year that Andrei spent in the U.S.S.R. probably helped him to understand what the Soviet world really is. His return to Washington last June must have aroused mixed feelings in young Berezhkov.

He was very happy to be back in the country that he loved; to meet American friends, to go with them to the local disco or video arcade. But he knew that his father's assignment in Washington was to terminate before he would be able to make another visit, and he would probably never be able to return to the United States.

We cannot know exactly what happened with Andrei during his perilous 14 hours away from home. Quite possibly he was unable to find anyone to shelter him before he once again fell into the hands of the Soviet authorities.

I can easily imagine the sort of psychological pressures Soviet embassy "specialists" and Andrei's own parents exercised on the troubled 16- year-old boy. Soviets are known experts in persuasion.

Andrei may have been promised admission to the prestigious Moscow Acting School, once he had revealed to reporters his desire to become a comedy actor. But the end of all this "comedy" might prove quite tragic for young Berezhkov.

According to the Soviet criminal code, the letter in which Berezhkov asked for asylum could qualify as "high treason" and might earn him a prison sentence. Although no cases of sentencing people of his age for "treason" habld inve been made public since Stalin's death, a request for asylum is considered to be among the most serious crimes against the state, and persons from the age of 16 can be held liable for such a crime.

The Berezhkov affair has drawn the attention of Western public opinion to the "fathers and sons" conflict within families of the Soviet nomenklatura. This dissent of the youthful elite must be troubling to the authorities. The risks that dissenting young people sometimes take suggest a deep alienation from orthodox Soviet ideology within precisely those privileged strata whose members have the best chance of one day becoming important officials.

As for Andrei Berezhkov, I would like to believe that one day I will meet him here in the West. And we can talk freely about the country we both love.

Sergei Zamascikov is working on a Ph.D. at the University of California at Los Angeles.