A dispute over whether Joseph Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, is a U.S. or Soviet citizen has arisen just days after she met with U.S. officials here, apparently seeking permission to return to the West.
Alliluyeva, 59, who ended 17 years abroad with a sensational return here in 1984 with her daughter, Olga, met with U.S. officials in the Soviet capital "in the last few days," U.S. Embassy spokesman Jaroslav Verner said today.
Verner declined to discuss the substance of the conversation, but asserted that Alliluyeva and the 14-year-old, American-born Olga "are both American citizens."
Victor Louis, a well-connected Soviet journalist who has served as a conduit for leaks to the West, said today, however, that Alliluyeva "is a Soviet citizen" who revoked her citizenship here once and may have trouble doing it again.
"You just can't change your citizenship every few months," he added. "You can't just get on a plane and fly out like that."
Louis, who first reported that Alliluyeva would be redefecting to the Soviet Union in 1984, said that Olga "definitely wants to go back" to the West. "I don't see any difficulty" for her return, he said, but "with Svetlana it might be difficult."
Olga was attending school in England when the pair returned to the Soviet Union two years ago.
Verner refused to comment on whether Alliluyeva or her daughter have asked to return to the United States. Soviet officials could not be reached for comment.
Alliluyeva defected to the United States in 1967, took an American name (Lana) and published several works highly critical of the Soviet Union. She married American architect Wesley Peters in 1970 and gave birth to Olga in 1971. She and Peters later divorced.
After returning to Russia in October 1984, Alliluyeva told reporters she had not enjoyed "one single day" of freedom in the West. Homesickness and a desire to reunite with family members here led her back, she said.
Alliluyeva's citizenship was restored and Olga was granted Soviet citizenship, too, according to Soviet news reports at the time. Olga's father still lives in the United States.
Shortly after returning here, Alliluyeva settled in Tbilisi, the capital of Soviet Georgia, the region where Stalin was born and grew up. There she was given a large apartment, a dacha, a big car and a pension, Louis said, quoting Georgian contacts.
*Alliluyeva is still in Moscow, according to diplomatic sources. Recent press reports that Olga already has moved back to the United States are untrue, the sources said.