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Three U.S.-Soviet Couples Reunited After Years of Separation

January 21, 1986

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Two American women were reunited Monday with their Russian husbands after years of separation and one of the wives said she hopes the Kremlin will permit similar reunions for other couples in the same position.

The two men, along with a Soviet-American couple reunited in West Germany on Sunday, arrived on the same flight at Newark International Airport on Monday evening.

Robin Rubendunst, 25, of Brookline, Mass., embraced her 38-year-old husband, Leonid Ablavsky of Leningrad, and disappeared without talking to reporters at Newark International Airport. She had not seen him since they were married in 1983.

Sandra Gubin of Kalamazoo, Mich., gave spouse Alexei Lodisev, 33, a red rose as they hugged. Lodisev, who last saw his wife when she visited the Soviet Union on a tourist visa in September, would not stop kissing her.

″I’m just feeling terrifically relieved,″ Ms. Gubin said from under her husband’s embrace. ″I am just so hopeful that all the others will be reunited.

″Everybody should have this moment. This is the best moment of my life.″

The three couples are among 10 sets of husbands and wives the Kremlin promised before the Geneva summit to allow to reunite in the West.

″Let’s try to hope that this small moment, in itself insignificant, is part of a huge step to real friendship between Russia and America,″ said Mikhail Iossel, 38, of Leningrad.

He was reunited with his wife Edith Luthi, 31, of Holliston, Mass., Sunday.

″Today is the birthday of our family,″ said a tearful Ms. Luthi, who last saw her husband three years ago and bore him a son he had not seen.

″I just want to say that this long separation can be forgiven, that finally being together does a lot to dissolve the bitterness that I have been feeling over the last two years,″ she said.

Mrs. Gubin, 38, who had fought for 41/2 years to be with her husband, said before the reunion that there are at least 20 other couples kept apart by the Kremlin.

″I’m hoping that over the next couple weeks people will be called in and and the Soviets will gradually move on the other cases,″ she said. ″This is a case where the Soviets are violating the rights of American citizens.″

Ms. Gubin, a social scientist, was a Fulbright scholar at Kiev University when she met her husband in Kiev in 1980.

After leaving the Soviet Union in 1981 when her visa expired, Ms. Gubin formed the Divided Spouses Coalition, which has flooded U.S. and Soviet officials with pleas to allow divided Soviet-American couples a life together.

She returned to the Soviet Union twice on a tourist visa, the last time in September.

Iossel, a computer programmer, will see his 21/2 -year-old son, Gregory, for the first time when the couple returns to their home outside Boston, said Ms. Gubin.

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