FBI Releases Classified Documents About Stalin's Daughter's Defection

 
on November 19 2012 6:11 PM
Stalin
Russian communists hold portraits of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as they take part in a procession to mark the Victory Day in Moscow May 9, 2011. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

 

Following a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the AP, the FBI has released newly declassified documents about the famous 1967 defection of Josef Stalin's daughter, Svetlana.

Documents show that the bureau kept close tabs on Svetlana, later known as Lana Peters, who died at the age of 85 last year in Wisconsin.

The AP discovered a memo, prominently marked "SECRET," among the dossier that predicted her defection would have a "profound effect" on those seeking to escape unsatisfactory conditions in Soviet bloc countries.

Known as Svetlana Alliluyeva (her mother's maiden name), she married American architect William Wesley Peters, chief disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1970. They had a daughter and later divorced. 

Svetlana said her departure was partly due to how poorly Soviet authorities treated her late husband Brijesh Singh, a leading figure in the Indian Communist Party. But one document in the unveiled package claims she was drawn to the U.S. because of its material wealth.

According to another memo, the Soviet leadership feared the U.S. would use Peters' defection for propaganda purposes. Another unnamed informant, however, claimed that the Soviets were unmoved by Peters' escape, as it would only discredit Stalin -- who had been officially denounced by then.

Americans, including top diplomat and Cold War expert George F. Kennan, feared that Soviet agents would attempt to contact Peters in the U.S., but no mention of special security arrangements or incidents were discovered by the AP.

The FBI, under FOIA exemptions, heavily redacted much of the 233-page file. It is allowed to do so for information related to foreign policy, confidential sources, and private matters, such as medical histories. Another 94 pages were not released because the bureau said they dealt with other government agencies. According to the AP, more than half of the information released consisted of newspaper articles and other already public information. 

 

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