Soviets to Allow Husband to Leave : For Her, Failed Summit Had a Silver Lining

Times Staff Writer

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev may consider the mini-summit in Reykjavik a failure, but for Gardena resident Gohar Rezian the meeting was the answer to a lover's prayer--faithful love rewarded.

As a result of some pre-summit maneuvering, Rezian, 28, a USC nursing student, will be reunited with her high school sweetheart, the man she had to leave behind in Yerevan, Armenia, when she and her family emigrated five years ago.

On Friday, Sept. 19, as Gorbachev was, himself, maneuvering for the meeting with President Reagan in Iceland, Soviet authorities summoned her husband, Poghos, to a plain, two-story building near the train station in Yerevan.

There, in the offices of the Soviet emigration agency, officials reversed years of stonewalling and told Rezian he would be permitted to emigrate.

Three others on the State Department's list of 16 spouses kept apart by Soviet authorities also got the good news the same week. Some made joyful announcements while the disappointed pressed their cases as the mini-summit meeting neared.

Gohar Rezian did neither.

Fearful that the Soviet authorities might renege, she waited until her husband got his passport to break the news. On Sunday, the day that the talks between the heads of state ended in a stalemate, Poghos Rezian called with the word: The passport had finally arrived and he would be out soon, maybe by the end of October, she said.

Waited for Regular Call

Before calling his wife last month with the news that he had permission to leave, Poghos Rezian waited two days--for their scheduled Sunday phone call.

"Very calmly, he says, 'I got permission,' " Gohar Rezian said.

"I started screaming. I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't believe it."

Then the reaction caught up with him.

"He had to take a deep breath for each statement," she said. "He couldn't talk."

When Rezian leaves his parents' large two-story house in suburban Yerevan and arrives at the cramped Gardena apartment of his wife's parents, he will complete a lovers' story that began in December, 1980, when his sweetheart, her parents, brother and his wife and their son left for the United States.

She flew back to Armenia 11 months later to marry Rezian. The idea was that the marriage would help him get out soon afterward. But Soviet authorities repeatedly refused to let him go, arguing at one point that the machinist with a high school education knew vital military secrets. Rezian said he served only as a construction worker during his two-year stint in the Red Army.

After waiting several weeks, his wife had to return without him.

The last five years have been hard for the separated lovers, who have been together only on Gohar Rezian's rare visits.

'It Makes Me Cry'

Rezian, 28, whose tousled good looks of high school days have given way to early baldness, was often moody, his wife reported. He told her during one visit that he wanted her to have his child. She said no, not until he was out.

Back in Gardena, she couldn't bear to get out her photo albums with pictures of her husband. "It makes me cry," she said in an interview last year.

Every time one of her friends got married or entered a new relationship, the joy only served as a bitter reminder of her enforced status as a single. "It hurts," she said at the time.

Gohar Rezian's father, Haykaz Panosovich Khdrian, said Monday that his daughter frequently came home from her medical technology courses at USC in a state of depression.

"We couldn't talk to her," he said. "We knew her condition. It is a long time for a man and a woman to be separated by artificial means."

'Hard Ordeal'

Her mother, Sirvard, said her daughter was "sad, staying in the house, not going out. That was a hard ordeal for her."

Last year, just before President Reagan met with the Soviet leader in Geneva, Gohar Rezian's hopes were raised as the issue of separated spouses became the focus of a congressional campaign to dramatize the issue of human rights.

More than 100 senators and other members of Congress signed letters to Gorbachev urging that families be reunited. Gohar Rezian signed a letter to Gorbachev, along with others in the same fix.

But the Geneva summit came and went. Some spouses were released but not Rezian. It only made the waiting harder, his wife said.

Now that the waiting is over, she said, she feels more relaxed.

Her father has noticed: "She is happy now all the time," he said.

Couple Will Repeat Vows

Gohar and Poghos, who were married in a civil ceremony in Yerevan on Oct. 21, 1981, will repeat their vows at the Armenian United Congregational Church in Hollywood, Gohar Rezian said.

In December, after she has completed her medical technology course, the couple will find their own apartment and perhaps then, Gohar Rezian said, she will agree with her husband that it is time to have a baby.

"He is really anxious to have one," she said.

Her husband, who has been busy polishing his English, is already planning for the trip, she reports.

"What do you want me to bring?" he said in their most recent phone call.

"Just bring yourself," she replied.

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