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Svetlana Alliluyeva

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Joseph_Stalin_with_daughter_Svetlana,_1935.jpg
Svetlana with father Stalin in 1935.

Svetlana Alliluyeva (born February 28, 1926), née Svetlana Josifovna Stalina, is a writer and the youngest child and only daughter of Joseph Stalin. Alliluyeva caused an international furor by defecting to the United States in 1967.

Like most children of high-ranking Soviet officials, Svetlana was raised by a nurse and only occasionally saw her parents. Her mother, Nadezhda Alliluyeva (Stalin's second wife), died on 9 November in 1932, when Svetlana was six. Nadezhda's death was officially ruled as peritonitis resulting from a burst appendix; various other theories are that the cause was suicide, or murder on the orders of Stalin, or that she was killed by Stalin himself.

Svetlana fell in love at age 16 with a Jewish filmmaker, Alexei Kapler. Stalin vehemently disapproved of the romance, and found a pretense to sentence Kapler to ten years in the labor camp of Vorkuta in Siberia.

At 17, she fell in love with a fellow student at Moscow University, Grigori Morozov, also Jewish. Her father grudgingly allowed the couple to marry, although he made a point of never meeting the bridegroom. After the birth of a son Joseph in 1945, the couple divorced in 1947.

Svetlana's second husband was a close associate of Stalin's, Yuri Zhdanov (son of his right-hand-man, Andrei Zhdanov). They were married in 1949, and had a daughter, Ekaterina, in 1950, but this marriage also dissolved soon afterward.

After her father's death in 1953, Svetlana adopted her mother's maiden name and worked as a teacher and translator in Moscow. In 1963 she met an Indian communist visiting Moscow, Brajesh Singh. He returned to Moscow in 1965, to work as a translator, but they were not allowed to marry. Singh died in 1966 and Svetlana was allowed to travel to India to take his ashes back, for his family to pour them into the Ganges. She stayed there for two months and became immersed in local customs.

On March 6, 1967, after first having visited the Soviet embassy in New Delhi, Alliluyeva went to the U.S. embassy and formally petitioned Ambassador Chester Bowles for political asylum. This was granted; however, owing to concerns that the Indian government might suffer from possible ill feeling from the Soviet Union, it was arranged for her to leave India immediately for Switzerland, via Rome. She stayed in Switzerland for 6 weeks before proceeding to the United States.

Upon her arrival in April 1967, Alliluyeva gave a press conference denouncing her father's regime and the Soviet government. Her intention to publish her autobiographical Twenty Letters To A Friend on the fiftieth anniversary of the Soviet revolution caused a furor in the USSR, and the government there threatened to release an unauthorized version; the publication in the west was therefore moved to an earlier date, and that particular diplomatic problem defused.

Due to the high profile of Alliuyeva's defection, her outspokenness, her connections as daughter of Stalin, etc., the Soviet Union demanded and received from the United States, in December 1967, an assurance that any future Soviet defectors would be debriefed by Soviet officials before being granted asylum.

In 1970 Alliuyeva answered an invitation from Frank Lloyd Wright's widow, Olgivanna Wright, to visit Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. As she described in her autobiographical "Distant Music", Olgivanna believed in mysticism and had become convinced that Svetlana was a spirtual replacement for her own daughter Svetlana, who had married Wright's chief apprentice William Wesley Peters, and who had died in a car crash years before. Amazingly, Alliuyeva came to Arizona, agreed to marry Peters within a matter of weeks, migrated with the Taliesin Fellowship back and forth between Scottsdale and Spring Green, Wisconsin, and adopted the name Lana Peters. The couple had a daughter, Olga. By her own account Alliuyeva retained respect and affection for Wes Peters, but their marriage dissolved under the pressure of Mrs. Wright's influence.

In 1982 she moved with her daughter to Cambridge, England, and in 1984 returned to the Soviet Union, where she and her daughter were granted citizenship, and settled in Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1986 Alliluyeva returned to the United States, and later returned back to Bristol in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. She now lives in a retirement home in Wisconsin.

Books by Svetlana Alliluyeva

  • Twenty Letters To A Friend (autobiography, published 1967, written 1963)
  • Only One Year (1969)
  • Faraway Music (1985)
  • Alien Ink: the FBI's War on Freedom of Expression (1992)gl:Svetlana Alliluyeva
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