Rudolf Nureyev: The Life

James Davidson writes:

The trial of Rudolf Nureyev, traitor number 50,888, took place in absentia and behind closed doors, in Leningrad on 2 April 1962. If convicted under article N64 Nureyev faced the death penalty. Five witnesses were interviewed in a small room overlooking the Fontanka Canal. The witnesses included Vitaly Strizhevsky, the KGB’s man in the Kirov, Georgi Korkin, the Kirov’s director, and Alla Osipenko, who gave a less than favourable review of her dancing partner’s character – ‘not respected … resented … rude and too self-regarding’. Nureyev’s sister, Rosa, and best friend, Tamara Zakrzhevskaya, tried to see what was going on through a slightly open door, until someone saw them and ‘kicked’ the door closed. Rosa had already provided a statement about Rudolf’s character (‘a kind, honest and loving son’), as had his ballet master, Alexander Pushkin, and Pushkin’s wife, Xenia: Rudik’s act of treachery had not been premeditated; he never talked politics and was not a dissident of any kind. A character report noted, moreover, that there had been no signs of immoral behaviour before his defection.

(LRB 29 November 2007)

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