Ballet dancer Yuri Stepanov, who last week declared false Soviet allegations that the CIA had tried to recruit him as a spy during his brief defection in America last year, was seized in a Moscow street today by several men presumed to be Soviet secret police agents. He apparently was taken into custody.
Stepanov was intercepted on the street by five plainclothesmen, according to ABC television corresponent Anne Garrels, who witnessed the incident, Garrels had earlier arranged by telephone to meet Stepanov near her office on Kutuovsky Prospekt for an interview.
The 33-year-old dancer surfaced last week saying the government newspaper Izvestia had fabricated parts of its account of his two-month American sojourn. He defeated from the Moscow Classical Ballet Company dance corps in January 1980 and spent two months in the United States before worries about possible retaliation against his family here drove him to return to Moscow.
Garrels said she had just spotted Stepanov on a crowded midday sidewalk when Stepanov was grabbed from behind by a man in a brown parka who forced the dancer into a black Volga sedan that pulled up at that moment. Stepanov struggled briefly, she said, then went into the car peacefully. As he was driven off between two men, she said, he waved.
Stepanov earlier told Western correspondents that Izvestia had invented and then attributed to him statements that the CIA wanted to make him a spy and that life in America was intolerable compared to life here. His refutation is almost unheard of in the Soviet Union.
In recent days, he has been in frequent contact with several correspondents, and this morning he said his apartment was ringed with agents, who later left allowing him to slip out for his intended meeting with Garrels.