The film creators share with AiF readers what was behind the scenes and in the frame.
Svetlana Allilueva is 82. She lives in a day care center in the USA, and her name now is Lana Peters. It took two and a half months for the filmmakers to persuade Stalin’s daughter to agree for this interview.
«You’re lucky to speak with me,» Svetlana immediately told the journalist. «Usually I decline all interview requests. I agreed to talk to you because you named me Svetlana. Just like the old times. Sounds good. And also because you’re young…
I’ve been US citizen for 30 years now, and I do not want to speak Russian. I hated Russia. Soviet Russia. And I will never come back there. I’m not ethnical Russian.»
One of the main problems in talking to Svetlana Allilueva was her bad and unpredictable temper which she showed right at the first minutes if the interview. She was asked how she had spoken to her grandmother (Stalin’s mother) who had not understood Russian. Allilueva got angry: «Please stop it! This is an invasion on my privacy! I do not want to talk about it!»
For the first time it was made public that Svetlana’s mother, Nadezhda Allilueva, wrote two letters to Stalin before her suicide. One of the letters was full of blame and curses. The second one was all about the kids and their upbringing. For example, she wrote it was important to check if Svetlana brushed her teeth, and Vasya (Stalin’s second child) paid more attention to the math. It was told by Svetlana’s son, Iosif Alliluev who agreed to talk about his family with journalists for the second time in his life. His grand-aunt once told him about these letters.
«My mother cannot be called «unhappy». They keep chatting that she was unhappy and that’s why she shot herself – this is bullshit!» Svetlana closed her eyes remembering. «She could have all she wanted. She began studying in the Industrial college and was going to get a divorce. Everybody knew about it. My mother wanted to get a diploma and start working. She was a feminist. She wanted to live by herself.
«I almost died»
Svetlana had her first love affair during the WW2.
«He was a famous Russian cinema producer and script writer. Everyone knew Alexei Kapler. He read lectures in the main Moscow cinema University. We were friends. Premarital sex was not in common in the Soviet Union. So we watched movies, visited theaters, Tretiakov’s gallery. Kapler was 20 years older.
Stalin stopped this Allilueva-Kapler affair by himself. Alexei was in the war lines, he wrote reports as a journalist. One day one newspaper printed a note named «Lieutenant L.’s letter from Stalingrad.» Kapler made his love confession in this article. Stalin could not tolerate this.
«Generally speaking, the poor one was sent out of Moscow for 5 years. And when he tried to come back he was sent to work camp for 5 more years.»
Soon after this Allilueva married her school friend Gregory Morozov. But these relations did not last long. They divorced soon after she born a son - Iosif (Allilueva has three kids).
«I wanted to get a diploma, and my dear husband wanted ten children. He never thought of safe sex. I made four abortions and had one lost pregnancy. I was really ill and got a divorce.
My second husband was a son of Andrey Zhdanov, the communist party’s committee main secretary. This was my father’s choice. We had no dates. We just married. My father was old, and I couldn’t ignore his wishes forever. I almost died when I born my second child - Ekaterina. Our blood types were different, and my dear daughter poisoned my body. This is called toxic pregnancy.
I only knew I did not want this marriage. And soon after Ekaterina’s birth Iv divorced. Father was disappointed. But at that moment he already understood I would always do what he did not like. My brother Vasily was really afraid of father; he could not speak in his presence. I was the only normal child in the family.»
Stalin often tried to influence the daughter’s private life and her working dreams. Svetlana wanted to become a writer and she entered the Arts school.
«When I told my father that I was accepted to study philology he exclaimed: «Writers? Existentialists? No way! Enter the historical college.» I was 17, and no one loves history when they are 17. I had to become a school teacher, and I hated this. I was so angry with the father, but I could not change anything.»
Svetlana became relatively free as she always wanted to be only when her father died. Allilueva even had an affair with a Hindu interpreter Radgi Bridge Singh during Hruschov’s time. But these relations were not long too, Svetlana’s common-law husband died. It was very difficult for Allilueva to leave for India to disperse her love’s ashes near Gang river. From there she ran away to Swiss and then to America.
«I hope Kosygin died, didn’t he? Ok. He’s not in heaven for sure. Kosygin was the reason I left Russia. He was the head of the government and tried to play a role of my father. He said I could not marry a Hindu. He said I could not do this or that.»
Allilueva’s runaway became the greatest news. Her two kids in USSR were said their mother had left them without regrets.
«My son was already married. He was 22. The daughter was 17, she entered the University. They were not little babies. In America by the way young people if this age start to live by themselves. Their mothers do not influence their lives anymore.»
Millions in banks
Svetlana got married again in US, her husband was an architect Peters. A daughter Olga was born.
«This was love at first sight. But Peters’ life was ruled by his sister. In newspapers they wrote my father left millions for me in Swiss. This lies are still alive! My father did not give me even pocket money.
When Peters’ sister understood I had no millions she made her best to separate us. I had almost no money, so we had to move to London.»
It was not easy for Svetlana to live in London. She did not have enough money. She regularly wrote to her kids in Soviet Union and sent these letters with her address and phone. But the letters were never received. Once Iosif got his mother’s phone number. He called to London immediately. Lately he understood it was all organized by the Soviet secret service. Iosif started talking his mother into coming back. Svetlana gave up and soon decided to come back. There was an apartment, car and pension prepared for her.
«As soon as we arrived they took our Russian passports. And they started to tell us what to do. We were surrounded by absolute idiots. No one with brains!»
Svetlana left Moscow for Georgia, then – to England and US. For ever, we guess.
The movie makers succeeded in making some video with Svetlana’s three children. The hardest part was to talk to the middle daughter, Ekaterina. «I negotiated this with her for a long time,» Irina Gedrovich, the director, says. «Katya lives in Kluchi village at Kamchatka” (AiF wrote about it in the #24, 2005).
«She is a volcanologist. It was very difficult to make her say yes. She agreed to talk if we discuss her job only. Olga, the youngest Allilueva’s daughter made the same terms. She is in retail sales in a small American town.»
Children do not contact each other. Their mother does not contact them. «My mother is an absolutely impossible person if we talk about bad temper,» Iosif Alliluev says. «She was able to quarrel with all her kids.»
The film creators wanted to show it to Svetlana first. But when the movie was made Allilueva stopped contacting. She answered neither the phone nor fax. But after the premier night the tape was sent to America.