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American Woman Reunited With Soviet Fiance In U.S. After 8-Year Separation

April 8, 1988

LYNN, Mass. (AP) _ The courtship between an American teacher and her Soviet fiance, who has been in this country two weeks, has spanned most of her adult life, but she’s still hesitant about marriage.

Victor Novikov, 56, met Elizabeth Condon, 45, 21 years ago when she was a tour guide for the U.S. Information Agency in Moscow.

They planned to marry in 1979, until Soviet authorities stood in the way, and Novikov has considered himself married ever since.

But Ms. Condon hesitates when asked if the two will marry before Novikov’s visa expires.

″We’re very pleased with the way things are going,″ Ms. Condon said. ″I just want us to get re-acquainted a little bit, at least have two months to think about it.″

″America has exceeded my expectations,″ Novikov, speaking through an interpreter, said last week while sitting on the steps of Ms. Condon’s home, where she has lived with her mother since she was 10.

″I want to say sincerely that I am in ecstasy,″ he said.

Novikov arrived for his visit March 26, and Ms. Condon met him at New York’s Kennedy Airport.

″I recognized him right away, but he was wearing this horrible hat, this soft men’s type hat,″ she said. ″The first thing I did was take the hat off.″

Novikov said he never married after meeting Ms. Condon because he always felt committed to her.

″He always insisted that everyone call me his wife,″ she said. ″For him, coming here is more like a technicality, like filling out a form. He already feels he’s married.″

Novikov is planning to take English lessons and hopes to resume work as a research chemist in the United States.

But if they do not marry within three months, he must return to the Soviet Union.

″I have confidence, but it depends on Elizabeth,″ he said. ″As they say in Russian, every week has seven Fridays.″

He meant, said Ms. Condon, ″that I’m a lot more up and down about this than he is.″

But ups and downs have been a hallmark of their relationship.

After they met in Moscow, they kept in touch by mail.

During a 10-week visit in the summer of 1970, when Ms. Condon was studying at Moscow University, Novikov proposed marriage but she refused.

On another 10-week Moscow visit in 1979, they decided to get married that October.

Their wedding was canceled when Soviet officials said they had received an anonymous letter claiming Novikov was already married. That claim was false, Ms. Condon said, but other bureaucratic obstacles prevented the marriage.

Novikov lost his job as a chemist in 1982 after announcing he wanted to emigrate to the United States, and has since supported himself with menial jobs.

″There were many difficult days and much was lost,″ said Novikov. ″Time itself was lost.″

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