November 16th, 2013

Defecting in the 1980s (Eastern bloc to USA)

Googled: procedure for defection ussr, how did soviets defect, embassy accepting defector ussr, papers needed for defector ussr, asylum for defectors 1980s, and other various permutations.

I have a FMC who defected from Russia in around 1985 by slipping through the back entrance of a hotel in Bonn, West Germany, and then heading to the American embassy. I know that "walk-ins" are common in some areas nowadays - Taipei and other East Asian embassies receive North Koreans, for example. However, I cannot for the life of me find any stories from ordinary Soviet citizens about going to the West.

Did "walk ins" happen back then? If so, would she need any of her papers? She'll have her passport, but not her birth certificate or anything - it's my understanding that Soviet birth certificates are kept at ZAGS (ЗАГС) and nowhere else, or is that a more recent, Russian development?

Would they place her under arrest? She's an antiques dealer by trade, but is not smuggling anything that might be of cultural value, and has no real intelligence value. Or would they simply make arrangements for her?

I know a fair amount about today's asylum law, but I have no idea if things were different back then. Especially when dealing with nationals from what was then an enemy state. Please advise me, it's going to drive me up the wall until I figure out where to go!