chapter  8
Russian–American Marriages: Cultures and Conflicts
ByLynn Visson
Pages 20

Prior to perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, RussianAmerican contacts in general, and marriages in particular, were a risky business, subject to the fluctuations of the political barometer and whims of bureaucrats on both sides of the ocean. The socialist idealists, children of Russian Jewish émigrés, black American Communists, and ordinary Americans who flocked to Russia in the 1920s and early 1930s wanting to build utopia ended up marrying Russians, as did many of the American journalists posted to Moscow. Getting an exit visa for the Russian spouse was far from easy, and many couples suffered from surveillance, harassment, and years of separation. Moreover, getting an exit visa did not guarantee living happily ever after. Not all of the American spouses were permitted to reside permanently in Russia, and many of those who did were forced to renounce their U.S. citizenship and to live in conditions worlds away from those experienced by Americans living with Russian mates in Russia today. The purges at the end of the 1930s and the postwar freeze in Soviet-American relations discouraged Russian-American marriages, and the law of 1947 forbidding Soviet citizens to marry foreigners formalized this situation, though a few exceptions were made and the law was eventually repealed in 1953.