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Thirty-three years ago today,

on a Friday the 13th (like today), my family, including Eugene and me, left the Soviet Union.

rbj:
Lucky for the US, unlucky for the USSR. But looking at how authoritarianism has returned to Russia, they probably wouldn't know a good thing if it was staring them in the face.
6.13.2008 1:10pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Wow, you guys must be real old; I wasn't even born then.
6.13.2008 1:12pm
VincentPaul (mail):
Why haven't even more Russians emigrated to the USA?
6.13.2008 1:15pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
happy anniversary!
6.13.2008 1:17pm
Brian Mac:

Why haven't even more Russians emigrated to the USA?

You mean more than just the Volokhs?
6.13.2008 1:18pm
Fub:
VincentPaul wrote at 6.13.2008 12:15pm:
Why haven't even more Russians emigrated to the USA?
Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.
6.13.2008 1:43pm
TC (mail):
Woo-hoo!
6.13.2008 1:56pm
ys:

Why haven't even more Russians emigrated to the USA?

You mean more than just the Volokhs?

A few more did - back then :-)
6.13.2008 2:02pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
When my dad's grandparents immigrated, they too were Russians. But that's because there wasn't a Poland at the time.
6.13.2008 2:15pm
notaclue (mail):
Does Russia have any more Volokhs? The USA needs more. Bring 'em on!
6.13.2008 2:15pm
frankcross (mail):
This should be a day when you all meet in Vegas, I think.
6.13.2008 2:23pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Seriously, happy anniversary. It's sometimes easy for Americans to get pumped up with seemingly empty, purple prose about this being the "land of opportunity" and all that, but for many people, including a family of smart libertarian Russian / Soviet emigrees who became brilliant and successful law professors and legal theorists, the "land of opportunity" isn't an empty slogan but a reality. May it continue to be for many others in the future.
6.13.2008 2:29pm
Lally:
I left the Soviet Union 15 years ago almost exactly a month ago. Cheers on that!
6.13.2008 2:31pm
AMB:
Message to Russia: SEND US MORE VOLOKHS!
6.13.2008 2:36pm
DrGrishka (mail):
From one immigrant to another, mazel tov. We also left on the 13th (though it was a Wednesday). But the train car in which we crossed the border was numbered "13." :)
6.13.2008 2:40pm
Clay:
How did you get out? Were Soviet citizens free to emigrate in 1975?
6.13.2008 2:41pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Clay: It has to do with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which linked trade with the Soviet Union with loosening of emigration restrictions.
6.13.2008 2:49pm
Dude Cool:
I'm going to start The No Volokhs Club. We can have one. Sasha, the spot is yours if you want it.
6.13.2008 2:51pm
gab:
My parents and brother left Italy to come to the US on Thanksgiving Day, 1951. We celebrated Thanksgiving doubly for that reason. To all who came here from other parts of the world - welcome.
6.13.2008 3:03pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
I only read the very first comment on this post. But my thoughts were the opposite: America has been veddy veddy good to the Volokh's, obviously. Now don't you boys forget to give something back, and there's not need to be shy in expressing your graditude to the country that took your in. You're one of many, and no man/family is bigger than a country. No shame in saying Thank You, and recognizing that the essential structure that helped you succeed was built by the toil and tears of the many who came before you... Being an American, it's best to be humble, and realize that as one of many, you are stronger than by tooting your horn alone.
6.13.2008 3:21pm
Davidabc:
Ever miss it ... along the lines of The Beatles, "Back in the USSR"? (notwithstanding the fact you're both happily married and all)
6.13.2008 3:23pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Besides, it's not like y'all are Werner von Braun's or anything... A movie magazine and legal blog, and a few seats teaching at the public universities, so not put you in the space program genius category, after all.

:-)

(Sorry, but after reading some of these drooling comments, I thought it best to keep ya's humble. You're no von Braun's.)
6.13.2008 3:25pm
Davidabc:
Calm down Gary. We owe more to Tesla than that Nazi Von Braun. Tunguska notwithstanding.
6.13.2008 3:38pm
byomtov (mail):
Mazel tov.
6.13.2008 3:47pm
MarkField (mail):
Friday the 13th in 1984? I'd love to see your horoscope for that day.
6.13.2008 4:20pm
Smokey:
VincentPaul:
Why haven't even more Russians emigrated to the USA?
Apparently you've never been to Sacramento, California, where instead of English-Spanish phone books, they're English-Cyrillic.
6.13.2008 4:30pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I took, and passed, the qualifying exam for my Ph.D. on a Friday the 13th. Not unlucky at all.
6.13.2008 4:37pm
ys:


Lally:

I left the Soviet Union 15 years ago almost exactly a month ago. Cheers on that!

A gentle correction: there was no Soviet Union then no more. It could not survive without the Volokhs.
6.13.2008 5:19pm
CDR D (mail):
Welcome, and happy anniversary to the Volokh brothers.

I think our Country could use more like them.
6.13.2008 6:31pm
Oleg Volk (mail) (www):
It's been only 19 years for my family (Volokhonsky/Volk) but every day spent outside of the USSR is a better day. Congratulations on wising up arly and on being able to get out. My folks had been trying since mid-1970s and only succeeded in 1989.
6.13.2008 6:33pm
Bleepless (mail):
A friend of mine and her family were the first third-wave Soviet emigrants to settle in the Seattle area. This was so weird that they got interviewed on tv.
6.13.2008 6:42pm
theobromophile (www):
Happy anniversary (of sorts)! :) A good deal for your family and for America. :)

Wow, you guys must be real old; I wasn't even born then.

Actually, EV is only ten years old. ;)
6.13.2008 6:46pm
LM (mail):
Another mazel tov.
6.13.2008 7:27pm
J. Aldridge:
President Grant tried to work out a deal for Russians to immigrate to the US but could not find any States willing to accept them. Today it is different, the U.S. just brings them whether the states approve or not.
6.13.2008 8:01pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

President Grant tried to work out a deal for Russians to immigrate to the US but could not find any States willing to accept them.


Some Russians remained in Alaska when it was purchased by the United States, so a few got in the back door. I don't know whether they became US citizens.
6.13.2008 8:37pm
Alaskan NonRussian:
If I recall my Alaska history correctly, in 1867 "civilized" people (including Russians and Russianized Natives) were offered the option of American citizenship. Otherwise they were free to go home to Russia. I presume at least a couple stayed!

Also of note, recently there have been quite a few Russian Old Believer immigrants to Alaska.
6.13.2008 8:54pm
SteveMG (mail):
Boy, are we richer for it.

Bring more.

I'll have an extra piece of cake tonight in celebration (I don't drink).
6.13.2008 9:00pm
Boris A.Kupershmidt (mail):
I left 30 years and two weeks ago.
Leaving Russia then was a very risky
and nontrivial affair.
Congratulations for having escaped
that hell-black-hole.
6.13.2008 10:00pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
My family members left Lithuania before it got sucked into the USSR but after it was a part of Russia (and boy am I glad that "Pakelchi(c)k" got traded in for "Parker"), about a hundred years ago. I always thought their timing was awfully good. Most of the other Russians and CIS/Baltic immigrants I've met have been here in the midwest, and left about the same time your family did.

In any case, congratulations! I dare say you're collectively a classic American success story.
6.13.2008 11:19pm
Fub:
Alaskan NonRussian wrote at 6.13.2008 7:54pm:
If I recall my Alaska history correctly, in 1867 "civilized" people (including Russians and Russianized Natives) were offered the option of American citizenship. Otherwise they were free to go home to Russia. I presume at least a couple stayed!
I think there was a significant Russian population in California during the 19th century. From about the middle 19th century there have been five California towns of Sebastopol, apparently named for Sevastopol, according to the town of Sebastopol in Sonoma County. I don't know details of the original Russian connection, but the town website offers a rather strange explanation.

A bit further north in Mendocino County there's the Russian River, named for the Russian fur trappers present there in the early 19th century.

These places were named before Grant even rejoined the army in 1861.
6.14.2008 2:15am
Walt Quist (mail):
And we are all the better for it! I really enjoy the Volokh
Conspiracy!
6.14.2008 3:16am
KirkVA (mail):
To Gary Anderson's comment on giving back: The Volokhs give back every day, as many hard-working American's do, just by doing their job and participating in the wonderful, still mostly free, economy we have here in the US. However, even beyond this meta-point for all working, tax-paying Americans, Eugene goes above and beyond the call of duty as a law professor and scholar by ensuring additional resources are available to many at no cost (e.g, the firearm scholarship webpage for journalists, this blog, ...). Moreover, he has kindly and thoughtfully replied to every email that this nobody has ever sent him (maybe four in six years), and I imagine he treats every stranger in the same thoughtful way.

A blessing on all of you Volokh's. I am so pleased that you came to the country I was fortunate enough to be born in.
6.14.2008 8:46am
Gary Anderson (mail):
KirkVA:

To whom much is given, much is expected.

I still think the tone this thread has taken (How lucky for America that the Volokh's got in!) is a bit mixed up.

How lucky for the Volokh's that America was there for them in their time of need. Now don't forget to quietly give back. Because to those to whom much is given, much is expected in return. It's a collective thing, you see, hundreds of years old, and stronger than any incoming family no matter how great its individual members might think themselves...

Hth!
6.14.2008 9:11am
M:
I can't believe I'm responding, but seriously, Gary. I think the "how great is it that America was there for us to emigrate to" is sort of implicit in Sasha's post. If it's not apparent to all, then it should be to those who have read this blog for years and have interacted with the Volokhs personally.

I think celebration on both sides of the event is in order and your lecture to others on their obligation to "quietly give back" is quite off-putting to me. It brings to mind the drunk guy in the bleacher seats at Red Sox games (there's always one there) who loudly tells the entire section how they should be rooting for the home team. We get it. You're the best fan ever and we should all recognize.
6.14.2008 10:29am
dick thompson (mail):
IANAL but I was lucky enough to have a team of 10 ex-Soviets who escaped back in the late 1970's-early 1980's. We as a country are lucky to have them. Very hard working, very bright and in the case of my whole team very very nice people. I have retired and yet every time they have a celebration I get invited. One of them talked about me so much at home that when I met his father the father knew all about me including where I was born.

There is a huge pool of talented people there and we should get more of them to immigrate - legally!!
6.14.2008 5:32pm
Al Goreski:
I can picture one russian I wish had never come here. I wish my soon to be ex-wife had never left the USSR. I'd have been better off.
6.14.2008 5:49pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):

Tunguska notwithstanding


Now, now, they never really pinned that on dear old Tesla. It's just a theory.

Too bad the Volokh's weren't able to pry loose a Soviet Boomer and escape in that. Now that would have made a great story. ;)
6.14.2008 6:58pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
30 years ago - in 1978 - I was promoted to project engineer of the AN/ALR-69 electronic defense system for the F-16, A-10, and B-52. This was at the Dalmo Victor division of Bell Aerospace, a division now long gone. Although I believe the AN/ALR-69 was replaced on the F-16 after the first Gulf War, I believe it's still in service on the A-10 Warthogs. It's hard to believe how long ago 30 years can be. The young whippersnappers around here just don't understand at times. :)
6.14.2008 7:10pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>It's hard to believe how long ago 30 years can be. The young whippersnappers around here just don't understand at times. :)

<<<


Hard to believe is right. On June 13th, 1975, my family was celebrating our #2 son's eighth birthday.

Whippersnappers become ex-whippersnappers soon enough.
6.14.2008 8:17pm
Don Meaker (mail):
Not long after the Communist blocks lost their Volokhs, the Berlin Wall came down. Coincidence? I think NOT!
6.15.2008 12:16am
Davidabc:

Now, now, they never really pinned that on dear old Tesla. It's just a theory.

Too bad the Volokh's weren't able to pry loose a Soviet Boomer and escape in that. Now that would have made a great story. ;)


Fair enough. I honestly don't have the background to understand the science involved anyway. But if I had to hazard a guess I would say he was responsible. I thought I read somewhere that he more or less claimed as much. Regarding Tesla, it's hard to find credible info on the web that doesn't go off the deep end.

I wasn't trying to jack the thread but I thought it was approppo given Gary Anderson's Von Braun reference and the fact the Volokhs' have at least some Slavic ancestry.
6.15.2008 5:38pm
neurodoc:
Thirty-three years ago today, on a Friday the 13th (like today), my family, including Eugene and me, left the Soviet Union...It has to do with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which linked trade with the Soviet Union with loosening of emigration restrictions.

Yes, you benefitted in a very direct way from efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
6.17.2008 2:27am