Oleg Bitov, the Soviet defector who returned home and said he'd been kidnaped, is trying to recover the money he earned with anti-Soviet writings in Britain, his former friends here said.
"It's very surprising that he's somehow managed to get on the right side of the authorities and come back and surface," said Duff Hart-Davis, a Sunday Telegraph writer who edited Bitov's essays.
Bitov was foreign cultural editor of the Soviet Writers' Union weekly Literary Gazette when he defected in Venice, Italy, in September, 1983. He was granted asylum in Britain and in less than a year had earned $50,000 with writings that denounced Soviet censorship and restrictions on his work as a journalist.
He left the money behind in London when he disappeared last August. Bitov turned up the next month in Moscow, and told a news conference that he was knocked unconcious in Venice, then drugged, and woke up in Britain.
He said he had decided to play a "double game" and write "anti-Soviet trash" to gain the trust of his "captors."