Madison: Soviet dictator Josef Stalin`s
daughter, whose defection to the West during the Cold War
embarrassed the ruling communists and made her a best-selling
author, has died. She was 85.
Lana Peters who was known internationally by her
previous name, Svetlana Alliluyeva, died of colon cancer
November 22 in Wisconsin, a state where she lived off and on
after becoming a US citizen, said Coroner Mary Turner.
Her defection in 1967, which she said was partly
motivated by the poor treatment of her late husband, Brijesh
Singh, by Soviet authorities -- caused an international furor
and was a public relations coup for the US.
But Peters, who left behind two children, said her
identity involved more than just switching from one side to
the other in the Cold War. She even moved back to the Soviet
Union in the 1980s, only to return to the US more than a year
Peters carried with her a memoir she had written in 1963
about her life in Russia. "Twenty Letters to a Friend" was
published within months of her arrival in the US and became a
When she left the Soviet Union in 1966 for India, she
planned to leave the ashes of her late third husband, an
Indian citizen, and return. Instead, she walked unannounced
into the US embassy in New Delhi and asked for political
asylum. After a brief stay in Switzerland, she flew to the US.
Upon her arrival in New York City in 1967, the
41-year-old said:"I have come here to seek the self-expression
that has been denied me for so long in Russia."
She said she had come to doubt the communism she was
taught growing up and believed there weren`t capitalists or
communists, just good and bad human beings. She had also found
religion and believed "it was impossible to exist without God
in one`s heart."
In the book, she recalled her father, who died in 1953
after ruling the nation for 29 years, as a distant and
Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin denounced her as a "morally
unstable" and "sick person" and added, "We can only pity those
who wish to use her for any political aim or for any aim of
discrediting the Soviet country."
"I switched camps from the Marxists to the capitalists,"
she recalled in a 2007 interview for the documentary "Svetlana
About Svetlana." But she said her identity was far more
complex than that and never completely understood.
"People say, `Stalin`s daughter, Stalin`s daughter,`
meaning I`m supposed to walk around with a rifle and shoot the
Americans. Or they say, `No, she came here. She is an American
citizen.` That means I`m with a bomb against the others. No,
I`m neither one. I`m somewhere in between. That `somewhere in
between` they can`t understand."