Bolshoi ballerina Lyudmila Vlasova and fifty-three passengers left for Moscow on Monday (27 August) after being detained three days in New York while United States officials tried to determine whether she wanted to remain with her dancer husband who defected last week.
Bolshoi ballerina Lyudmila Vlasova and fifty-three passengers left for Moscow on Monday (27 August) after being detained three days in New York while United States officials tried to determine whether she wanted to remain with her dancer husband who defected last week. After Miss Vlasova was interviewed in a mobile lounge at Kennedy airport -- a compromise location agreed to by American and Soviet diplomats -- it was decided that she did in fact want to return to Moscow and was not being coerced by Soviet officials.
SYNOPSIS: United States officials stopped this Soviet Aeroflot plane from taking off on Friday (24 August).
Bolshoi ballerina Lyudmila Vlasova was aboard, but her husband Bolshoi star Alexander Godunov said she was leaving under duress. State Department officials spent long into the night trying to determine if this was true.
What followed was sixty hours of haggling. United States officials wanted to see Miss Vlasova alone, off the plane. But the Soviets only allowed American passengers to disembark. And the diplomatic tug-of-war continued into another day.
A State Department spokesman reported that President Carter had kept constantly in touch with officials about what he described as "an extraordinarily sensitive and increasingly tense" situation. Eventually the compromise location of a mobile lounge, considered neutral territory, was reached in order that Miss Vlasova could be interviewed.
After speaking to the ballerina United States officials reported they had no doubt that she wanted to go back to Moscow. They said she seemed in good spirits, lively, bright, alert and very informal. The official Soviet News Agency Tass called the three-day detention of the plane a crude provocation. They said the incident ran counter to basic human rights and that those responsible for it had the aim of worsening Soviet-American relations. The plane eventually took off on Monday (27 August).