US authorities announced today that Lana Peters, known in Russia as Светлана Иосифовна Аллилуева (Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva) and the daughter of Soviet dictator Iosef Stalin, died from colon cancer at a nursing home in her adopted hometown of Richland, Wisconsin.
Born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) on 28 February 1926 she received the name of her father but after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, she took the surname of the mother Nadezhda Alliluyeva. In 1967 she fled to India and lived for a time in Switzerland before asking the United States for asylum in 1970. After her arrival in the U.S. she was married and lived under the name Lana Peters.
Her publication of “Twenty Letters to a Friend” (1963), a work about her father and about life in the Kremlin, caused a worldwide sensation. Then in 2008 she appeared in a 45-minute documentary film “Svetlana about Svetlana”.
In her childhood Stalin often referred to her as his “beloved” but in his will Stalin left her 30 rubles as an inheritance (roughly about a dollar today).
In the US she became friends of the wife of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and married one of his friends, architect William Peters. That marriage ended in divorce but they had one daughter.
Under the openness of the 1980s she returned to the Soviet Union to be near her other children. Her son her first marriage, Joseph, lived in the Soviet Union until his death (1945-2008). Her first marriage was ordered dissolved by Stalin and later she gave birth to a daughter, Yekaterina, in a 2nd marriage. Both children were baptized in a Moscow church in 1962. However on her return to the Soviet Union both Joseph and Yekatrina rejected her attempts at reconciliation, feeling betrayed.
The Soviet government issued her a nice apartment and private car and driver in Georgia to be near the birthplace of her father. However youngest daughter Olga struggled to learn Russian and both felt restricted with Soviet life so eventually she returned to America in 1986. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev allowed her return to the United States as she held dual citizenship in the USSR and the USA.
Later for a short time in the 1990s she lived in the monastery of St. John in Switzerland and then in a nursing home in England. The USA granted her a small pension making it possible for her to move to a nursing home in Wisconsin to be close to her youngest daughter, Olga.
The funeral arrangements are private. She is survived in the USA by her daughter Olga from Portland, Oregon, USA.