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Screenwriter with question on Russian History

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Screenwriter with question on Russian History
    Posted: 24-Jul-2008 at 23:53
Hey people,
 
I have a question and I hoped to pick your brains. I'd have answered it myself through google, but it comes up with surprisingly vague answers regardless of what I type.
 
A quick explanation. I'm an spiring screenwriter (as the thread title indicates) and am currently writing the biog for my main character (we'll call her Emma). The question regards her back story. I'll explain what I'm aiming for.
 
Emma is currently living in America although she's of Russian descent. She and her family moved to America from Russia around the age of 4-7 which can be anywhere between 1975-1980. Her parents were fleeing some kind of conflict in their home country.
 
My query is what could this conflict be, so I guess this is directed at thr Russian History experts. There are a few other details.
 
1. Emma's family come from a rich lineage and I need a historical situation where they would have been able to leave Russia with all riches in tact, still able to continue their rich, properous lives in America.
 
2. It needs to be an event in Russian History that took place between 1975-1980.
 
3. It has to have been life threatening situation where they had to leave.
 
Bear in mind it doesn't even have to have been that epic. It could be based around the cold war. It could be that Emma's father was a spy and he was extradited during that whole Spy trading debacle that was narrowly before my time.
 
Anything that would have required a rich family to flee their home country.
 
From what I've read on here already I can see I'm in the company of knowledgeable folks who can help me on this.
 
Thankin' you in advance :)
 
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  Quote Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2008 at 00:04
Well, the only thing I can think off right now about your characters and their connection with Russia -- is that they should have Jewish origin to be allowed to emigrate from Soviet Russia during 1975 - 1980.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2008 at 12:05
Other than Jews, they would pretty well have to be defectors, and I cannot imagine a situation at that point in time where a father would have been allowed out with his family including a small child to be in a position where they could defect together.
 
A line to follow might be to have had the family living in Poland, more precisely Gdynia or Gdansk, and somehow managing to get out through the shipyards in the events surrounding the founding of Solidarnosc in 1980, and the suppression of 1981 but it's pushing the envelope a bit.
 
In fact if we play fast and loose with 'Russian', one could play with a scenario in which her family origin is Ukrainian with her grandparents being born when Lvov was part of Tsarist Russia, her parent in the thirties when Lvov was in Poland, and she around 1970 when it was part of the Soviet Union.
 
I know someone who was born in Lvov in 1949 whose parents were born when it was Polish, and the whole family was moved out to live in Gdansk. She was legally Polish but always referred to herself as Russian (though Lvov is actually now in Ukraine).
 
1975-80 is a bad time to pick looking for events of this kind.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2008 at 12:28
Most likely, she would be a diplomats child who defected. Othewise 1975-1980 is about as good as it ever got for the Soviet Union. 1980 has the possibility that her father is a fairly senior military officer (say Col)  stationed in Afghanistan. His family comes to meet him at 40th Army HQ in  Kabul (for the first two or three years when the Russians were in complete control of cities this happened) and the family defects one night to Pakistan. Several Soviet soldiers did defect in in this manner including a few officers. This is streching it a bit, but its still believeable.
 
 
The option of the diplomat has the disadvantage that KGB will be watching and the family will have very few chances to escape together. The first, while in a warzone KGB influence will be less (they have other more pressing matters); its well a warzone. Though of course if the father is an officer in a Tajik Regiment (they a lot of the fighting there) he may well know a lot of Dari; and he could disguise the family as refugees and rush to Peshawar like about 5 million others.
 


Edited by Sparten - 25-Jul-2008 at 12:29
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2008 at 13:34
I forgot the Afghan war started before 1980. I said 1975-80 was a bad time, meaning in comparison to 1953 in Germany, 1956 in Hungary, 1968 in Prague, or post 1980 in Poland.
 
It seems certain that no such family could have got out directly from Russia, and the father would have had to be pretty high-ranking to be allowed out to the west with his family. I never came across a married soviet or east European functionary in the west who had his wife, let alone a child, with him. (But admittedly I never met anyone really high ranking.) It would therefore have to be through some satellite or other.
 
In Le Carre's Smiley's People, which is set in this period, Karla, despite being chief of the  KGB's 13th directorate, has to go to elaborate lengths, including identity switching, to get his daughter safely to the West.  Le Carre's backgrounds are very realistic.
 
On the whole, though, Afghanistan does sound like a good bet.
 
 
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