Nation

FBI releases files on Stalin’s daughter

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin with his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva, who died last year at 85. She defected to the United States in 1967.
Icarus Films via AP/Undated
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin with his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva, who died last year at 85. She defected to the United States in 1967.

MADISON, Wis. — Newly declassified documents show the FBI kept close tabs on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s only daughter after her high-profile defection to the United States in 1967, gathering details from informants about how her arrival was affecting international relations.

The documents were released Monday to the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act after Lana Peters’s death last year at age 85 in a Wisconsin nursing home. Her defection to the West during the Cold War embarrassed the ruling communists and made her a best-selling author. And her move was a public relations coup for the United States.

One April 28, 1967, memo details a conversation with a confidential source who said the defection would have a ‘‘profound effect’’ for anyone else thinking of trying to leave the Soviet Union.

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The source claimed to have discussed the defection with a Czechoslovak journalist covering the UN and a member of the Czechoslovakia ‘‘Mission staff.’’

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When she defected, Peters was known as Svetlana Alliluyeva, but she went by Lana Peters after her 1970 marriage to William Wesley Peters, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Peters said her defection was partly motivated by the Soviet authorities’ poor treatment of her late husband, Brijesh Singh, a prominent figure in the Indian Communist Party.

Associated Press