IOSIF Tsoglin waited 14 months after he applied to leave the Soviet Union before permission was granted. That was six years ago, when ``things were much better,'' he says. He has friends still in the Soviet Union who applied seven years ago. For him, that life under an often-oppressive system is growing distant. Yesterday, he was among 100 new Americans taking the oath of citizenship under the golden dome of Massachusetts' historic State House.
A smiling, handsome man with a dark, well-trimmed beard, Mr. Tsoglin (he plans to Anglicize his name to Joseph Sogland) cites three reasons he left the USSR.
First, ``the personal freedom I get here,'' he says. Simply the ability to ``move to any city you want'' and ``to try something new'' -- these freedoms are a radical change from a society where, as he puts it, personal life is ``so watched, and so closely.''
He has exercised that freedom of movement since coming from Moscow, his birthplace, to the United States. He lived first in New York, where his parents and two sisters (who immigrated with him) still live, then Detroit, and now in Brookline, a Boston suburb. This summer he and his wife, a Russian immigrant he met in New York, plan to tour the West Coast, which he hasn't seen.
Tsoglin's second reason for coming to the US was the anti-Semitism he experienced in the Soviet Union. He doesn't consider himself a religious person, he says, but he can ``see the difference'' that freedom of worship makes here -- and he appreciates it. Beyond that, ``If you're Jewish in Russia, it's very difficult to get a good job,'' he says.
Are opportunities here as good as he had hoped? ``Even more than I thought,'' he says smiling.
That leads to his third reason for immigrating -- to get ``a better life'' economically. Unlike many new immigrants, Tsoglin came equipped with a skill as a computer programmer. He now works in data processing.
``I thought it would be difficult because I had no English,'' he says. And his English, though certainly coming along, is still halting at times. But people have been willing to help him learn.
In fact, that willingness to help is something Russians and Americans share, he says. On a personal level, ``Americans are the same open people, like the Russian people.''