MADISON, Wis. - 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 Nov. 22 in southwestern Wisconsin, where she lived off and on after becoming a U.S. citizen, Richland County Coroner Mary Turner said Monday.
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 U.S. 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 U.S. more than a year later.
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 U.S. embassy in New Delhi and asked for political asylum. After a brief stay in Switzerland, she flew to the U.S.
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 U.S. and became a best-seller.
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." LINK