Consequences of "defection" (illegal departure) from the USSR. [SUN5385]

According to the World Human Rights Guide, dissidents, defecting tourists, artists, etc., may be deprived of their nationality. [ Charles Humana, World Human Rights Guide (London: The Economist Publications, 1986), p. 292.] It should be noted, however, that the date of publication is 1986. According to the attached article from Report on the USSR,
"Whereas in the past people who left the USSR to settle permanently in a 'capitalist' country immediately became nonpersons whose names it was forbidden to cite in print in any positive context (even in footnotes to scientific works), nowadays many Soviet literary journals are publishing the works of émigrés ... Writers and artists who were granted political asylum in the West visit the Soviet Union as a matter of course...Soviet citizens are now allowed to visit their émigré friends and relatives ... [ John Stavis and Julia Wishnevsky, "The Impact of Glasnost on Soviet Emigration Policy", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 1, No. 40, 6 October 1989, p.4.]

Although those who were expelled from the Soviet Union may have regained recognition and are permitted to travel to the Soviet Union, there is no information in the sources regularly consulted by the IRBDC as to whether or not these persons have been permitted to regain their citizenship if they had been deprived of it.

According to the Refugee Affairs section of the Department of External Affairs, the fact that a person has a Soviet passport is no guarantee that they have the right to Soviet citizenship. [ As reported in Information Request #SUN1615, 26 July 1989.] Each application for citizenship by a citizen who has been outside the Soviet Union for a great length of time is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, each time a Soviet citizen returns to the Soviet Union they must reapply for residence status which is also reviewed on a case-by-case basis and is not automatically guaranteed. [ Ibid.]

A more recent report from External Affairs states that:
Under existing regulations persons who left the USSR illegally and return to the country are liable for two to four years' imprisonment. Also, persons who overstay legal visits abroad and return to the USSR are liable for a fine of approximately $15.00 Cdn for each year of unauthorized over-stay. The Soviet Embassy indicates that these penalties are not usually imposed and that the new emigration and foreign travel law is expected to abolish them. [ External Affairs, "Emigration/Family Visit Regulations, Eastern Europe", 19 March 1990.]

According to the United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1989):
During 1988 thousands of Soviet citizens residing abroad permanently as well as former Soviet citizens were permitted to return on short family visits or for other reasons. ... In 1988 Soviet authorities continued a trend begun in 1987 to permit emigrants to return for tourist visits to the USSR, both those who had retained Soviet citizenship and Soviet passports and thoseprimarily Soviet Jews who had emigrated on Israeli vyzovswho had been stripped of Soviet citizenship. However those who had obtained a second citizenship were not permitted a grace period to determine if they wished to return permanently. As soon as a returning former citizen requested housing or medical services or even a residency permit, local authorities required the surrender of the Soviet foreign travel passport or Soviet exit visa and the acceptance of an internal passport before services could be made available. [ Country Reports 1988, pp. 1227-28.]


John Stavis and Julia Wishnevsky, "The Impact of Glasnost on Soviet Emigration Policy", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 1, No. 40, 6 October 1989.
External Affairs, "Emigration/Family Visit Regulations, Eastern Europe", 19 March 1990.