Wed Student to Help Her Get Out of Russia, Divorce Court Told

Associated Press

An American ski instructor has told a divorce court here that he married a fellow student at Moscow State University in 1978 not because he loved her but because he wanted to help her get out of the Soviet Union.

Gary Talanov, 31, made the statement in papers filed in Placer County Superior Court in support of his suit for divorce from Elena Kaplan, 27.

His lawyer told the judge Tuesday that after seven years of failed attempts to bring his wife to the United States, Talanov "wants to get on with his life."

Talanov's visa expired a few months after his marriage, and he returned to California. Despite his repeated requests, the Soviet Union has refused to give his wife an exit visa.

The case is one of 23 involving separated spouses expected to be discussed next week at the summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The United States regards the Soviet refusal to let the spouses emigrate as a human rights issue.

Talanov has refused to talk to reporters and did not appear in court Tuesday.

'A Private Thing'

"He is somewhat disturbed that an event that is normally a private thing is turning up in the media," said his lawyer, Rick Peasley.

Talanov, a ski instructor at Lake Tahoe, filed for divorce in July, citing irreconcilable differences.

His wife responded with a five-page letter saying the divorce would cost her the protection of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. She said they had fallen in love so strongly that they got married despite the disapproval of her parents and the problems with the government.

In his declaration filed with the court, however, Talanov said:

"My relationship with (her) was as a friend. Due to feelings of sympathy for her and with a hope to assist her in leaving the Soviet Union, we were married on April 26, 1978.

"We have never lived together. There was never an intent of having marital relations, and therefore the intention of resuming marital relations is not present and has not been present."

John Paulsen, one of two lawyers appointed to represent Kaplan, called Talanov's declaration "a ploy."

"We think that is basically something that was made up at the last minute by Mr. Talanov," Paulsen said. He said the State Department, which has been aware of the marriage since 1978, told him that it was a true marriage "and that they had a loving relationship."

Superior Court Judge James Garbolino continued the case for 30 days.

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