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Khrushchev's Son Becomes U.S. Citizen

Sergei Krushchev
Sergei Krushchev, son of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, takes the oath of U.S. citizenship July 12 during ceremonies in Providence, Rhode Island. (Reuters)
By Terrence Petty
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 1999; 7:53 a.m. EDT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Nikita Khrushchev's son has become a U.S. citizen, vowing to defend the capitalist lifestyle that his father long ago vowed would soon be humbled by communism.

``I'm feeling like a newborn. It's the beginning of a new life,'' the 64-year-old Sergei Khrushchev said Monday after taking the oath of citizenship inside a Roman Catholic school auditorium.

At his side was his wife, Valentina Golenko, who also became an American.

The pair became citizens nearly 40 years after the famous Kitchen Debate between former Soviet leader Khrushchev and then-Vice President Richard Nixon in Moscow.

``In another seven years, we will be on the same level as America,'' Khrushchev told Nixon then. ``When we catch you up, in passing you by, we will wave to you.''

Sergei Khrushchev, once a Soviet missile engineer, has lived in the United States since 1991, when he began teaching a class in Cold War history at Brown University in Providence.

The Khrushchevs took up a typical American existence, driving two American cars and living in a suburban ranch home in nearby Cranston. The home has central air, a Jacuzzi and an entertainment center.

On Monday, they joined 242 others in becoming Americans, replying ``I do'' after U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux asked if they promised to be good citizens. The group then recited the Pledge of Allegiance; most of them, including Khrushchev, held miniature American flags.

In a June interview with The Associated Press, Khrushchev said he hoped his father ``would be supportive'' of his new American citizenship. Nikita Khrushchev died in 1971.

``After all,'' he said, ``it's not as if I'm defecting.''

Still, some in Russia apparently see betrayal in Khrushchev's move. His son, working in Russia to gather material for his father's Cold War books, has reported government officials have hindered him since the citizenship quest was reported.

As he left Monday's ceremony, Khrushchev said he didn't think relatives in his homeland would face hostility because of his decision.

``No, no!'' he replied. ``You're still living in the Cold War. It's a different Russia.''

© 1999 The Associated Press

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