The British government issued a visa Friday to Josef Stalin’s 14-year-old granddaughter to permit her to return to the West 16 months after being taken to the Soviet Union by her mother.
Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s daughter and the mother of the American-born Olga Peters, took the girl to the Soviet Union in November, 1984, apparently against her will. Alliluyeva, 60, denounced life in the United States and said she wanted to live in the country of her birth.
Alliluyeva, whose father ruled the Soviet Union for 30 years, defected to the West in 1967 and lived in the United States until 1982, when she and Olga moved to Britain.
There was no immediate word from Soviet officials on whether Olga would be allowed to leave. But British officials said they believe she has a Soviet exit visa and will arrive in time to be ready for the new school term that starts April 16.
Requested by Soviets
A British Embassy official in Moscow, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Friday that Soviet officials asked for the visa to be issued and sent over her passport, so presumably there will be no problem in the girl’s departure.
There was no word on Alliluyeva’s plans, but the British said she had not applied for a visa for herself.
“If the arrangements can be made for Olga’s return, I will be delighted and all her friends will be as delighted as me,” said John Woods, headmaster of the Quaker school, which the girl attended for 18 months.
Olga was suddenly taken out of the Friends School in Saffron Walden, near Cambridge, in October, 1984, by her mother. Neighbors said then that they overheard a heated argument and the daughter shouting: “Why didn’t you discuss it with me?”
Failed to Adapt
Apparently, neither mother nor daughter adapted well to life in Moscow or Tbilisi, capital of the Georgian republic where they moved shortly after returning to the Soviet Union.
British and American press reports said Olga had trouble at school because she didn’t speak Russian and insisted on wearing a cross in a country that is officially atheistic.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s office denied a report in the Daily Mail that Peters’ visa was the result of a secret deal personally authorized by the British leader and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
Last week, the Sunday Times reported that Alliluyeva apparently was disenchanted with her life in Tbilisi and wanted to return to the West with her daughter.
‘American as Apple Pie
In early 1984, Alliluyeva described her daughter as being “as American as apple pie.” Close friends in Cambridge were mystified when she took the child to live in the Soviet Union. One called Stalin’s daughter “incredibly selfish.”
At a news conference in Moscow, Alliluyeva said she was upset at her treatment by U.S. intelligence agents, had never spent a happy day in the West, and was seeking happiness with the son and daughter she left behind when she defected from the Soviet Union in 1967.
“Olga is not entitled in any measure to determine her own life,” she declared then.
Britain’s Home Office, which controls immigration, said Alliluyeva had apparently agreed to let her daughter go. “Since she is a minor, one can only presume that her mother favored her application,” said a Home Office spokesman. The Home Office said Olga had been granted a 12-month visa.
After Alliluyeva defected, the Soviet Union stripped her of citizenship. But in 1984 the government restored her Soviet citizenship and gave her daughter Soviet citizenship.
Olga is the only child from Alliluyeva’s 1970 marriage to William Wesley Peters, senior architect of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The marriage, Alliluyeva’s third, was dissolved in 1973.