Joseph Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, said today that she had not enjoyed "one single day" of freedom in 17 years in the West. But she made it clear that she had returned to the Soviet Union out of homesickness and a desire to rejoin her family.
At a hastily convened press conference for a restricted number of foreign and Soviet journalists, Alliluyeva asserted that she had been manipulated by the CIA and that her second book, "Only One Year," was largely written by others, including unnamed CIA operatives.
She said she had been tormented by a "profound sense of guilt all these years" before she finally visited the Soviet Embassy in London on Sept. 11 to ask permission to return to the Soviet Union.
"I feel happy now," she added.
From her remarks, it was implicit that Alliluyeva believed she had come to a stage in her life when she wanted to settle down near the two children she had left behind when she moved to the United States in 1967. After a rather unhappy life as a communist princess, four marriages and a dramatic defection, she seemed to have come back to square one apparently guided by personal feelings and her basically Russian character.
Her life seems to have been one full of difficult adjustments, beginning with her childhood as daughter of the tyrant who ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist. It seems to have been equally difficult for her to deal with life after her father's death, although she enjoyed all the privileges accorded to members of the Communist establishment.
She stated flatly that she was a religious person and that she was baptized in Moscow in 1962, but the Soviet media made no mention of it. They focused instead on her lengthy denunciation of western life styles and her disenchantment with the West in general.
Alliluyeva's return has an important political aspect. Her father is currently being rehabilitated as a great military leader and diplomat. This is because huge celebrations are planned next year for the 40th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, and it is virtually impossible to talk about that war without mentioning Stalin and acknowledging his role as the commander in chief and top diplomat in that period. The fact that his daughter publicly has corrected what are seen here as her erring ways also helps in the process of his rehabilitation.
The return of the most celebrated Soviet defector and her public contrition constitute a propaganda coup for the Kremlin. Alliluyeva's remarks at today's press conference were prominently featured during the main television news broadcast tonight.
Alliluyeva appeared composed and self-confident during the 70-minute meeting with reporters at the offices of Soviet Women's National Commmittee.
She spoke quietly in Russian and occasionally corrected her English translator. Her voice was emotional only when she discussed her American-born daughter, Olga Peters, 13, and the child's future.
Much of her prepared statement focused on criticism of life in the West and her "delusions" about it before she defected in 1967. Her subsequent explanations became increasingly personal, including her reference to her profound religious beliefs.
She and her daughter, Alliluyeva said, "have been met here like the prodigal son in biblical times. I am very grateful for this."
In an unusual action, the Soviet authorities earlier this month restored Alliluyeva's citizenship, which she lost in 1969 after she burned her Soviet passport, asserting that she would never return to Moscow. The authorities also conferred Soviet citizenship on her daughter.
Olga's father is an American architect, William Wesley Peters, who married Alliluyeva in 1970. Their marriage broke up two years later.
The question of Olga's citizenship appeared complicated. It was believed here that she could claim her U.S. citizenship when she comes of age. The girl does not speak Russian, but her mother asserted that she is being taught her "second mother tongue."
Alliluyeva insisted that she held complete custody of Olga, who as a minor "is not entitled in any measure to determine and decide her own life." Olga would be free to decide her future after she becomes 18, she added.
Alliluyeva, accompanied by Foreign Ministry officials, opened what she described as her "last" news conference with a lengthy criticism of what she termed "the so-called free world."
She said that when she arrived in the United States, she found herself in the hands of "lawyers, businessmen, politicos and publishers who turned the name of my father, my own name and my life into a sensational commodity."
"I became a favorite pet of the CIA and those who even went to the length of telling me what I should write and what I should not," she said.
Her second book she described as a "collective production" involving persons whom she "ironically thanked" in an author's note. Only the portion of the manuscript dealing with India was written by her, she said, suggesting that the rest was done by a number of prominent persons who were helping her at the time.
Among those she mentioned were George Kennan, former U.S. ambassador to Moscow; Yugoslav writer Milovan Djilas, who was living in Princeton at the time; Princeton professors Robert Tucker and Richard Burgi; literary critic Edmund Wilson, and a Russian Orthodox priest, the Rev. George Florovsky. Alliluyeva said several CIA operatives also were involved, but she would not name them.
[Most of the people she mentioned could not be reached for comment, but Tucker, who is writing a three-volume biography of Stalin, said he had commented on the manuscript of "Only One Year" but had not written any of it. He said it appeared that she was trying to dissociate herself from the book, which he said was more anti-Soviet than the first one she published in the United States, "Twenty Letters to a Friend."]
Earlier this year, Alliluyeva said, while observing celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy, "I really understood where I belong." She said she was shocked by "such injustice" when the western media "ignored 20 million Russians who gave their lives" in World War II.
Her final decision was made Sept. 10, after she received word that her son, Joseph Morozov, was ill.