Sergei Khrushchev, son of Cold War-era Soviet leader, dies at U.S. home

Sergei Khrushchev rides on a train from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 1959.
Sergei Khrushchev, center, in light-colored suit, on a train from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 1959. His father, then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, is second from left, sitting next to U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge.
(© Bettmann /CORBIS)

Sergei Khrushchev, the son of late Cold War-era Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and who became a U.S. citizen in 1999, has died at his Rhode Island home, authorities said. He was 84.

The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, according to Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the state medical examiner’s office.

“There were no immediate signs of outside foul play,” Cranston, R.I., Police Maj. Todd Patalano said Wednesday.


Police responded to Khrushchev’s home in Cranston early June 17 after getting a call from his wife, Patalano said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is closed, and no criminal charges were filed, he said.

Sergei N. Khrushchev.
(M. Spencer Green / Associated Press)

The younger Khrushchev was a rocket scientist in the Soviet Union and moved to Rhode Island in 1991 to lecture on the Cold War at Brown University.

He and his wife, Valentina, became naturalized U.S. citizens in July 1999.

“I’m feeling like a newborn. It’s the beginning of a new life,” Sergei Khrushchev told the Associated Press after taking the oath of citizenship inside a Roman Catholic school auditorium.

In a different interview, he said he hoped his father, who died in 1971, would be supportive of his American citizenship.

“After all, it’s not as if I’m defecting,” he said.

Khrushchev’s funeral will be held in Moscow in October, his widow told Tass, the Russian news agency. She said she did not wish to speak when reached by the Associated Press.