The loudest escapes from the USSR

In the USSR, they assured that it was better not to find a country for life, but there were those who, in order to escape abroad, had to hijack airplanes or swim there. Below we will talk about the most high-profile or strange cases associated with the "outflow" of Soviet citizens.

Stanislav Kurilov

The oceanologist and writer worked in Vladivostok, but dreamed of going on business trips abroad, but the authorities of the USSR refused to do this, including due to the fact that the instructor had relatives abroad. In 1974, Kurilov jumped off a cruise ship and swam about 100 km, reaching the island of Siargao belonging to the Philippines. When the story got publicity in the media, the former resident of the Union was deported to the vastness of Canada, where he opened his own pizzeria, continuing to do what he loved. After the wedding, the man moved to Israel, having died in 1998 while diving. In the USSR, meanwhile, Kurilov was sentenced in absentia to ten years for treason.

Alexander Mogilny

A famous hockey player from the USSR fled before its collapse, in 1989. After the victorious match for the Union at the World Cup in Stockholm, the athlete left the hotel and requested asylum from the United States. Already in the States, Mogilny began to play in the Buffalo Sabers, noting that he never regretted his decision, because in Moscow, despite all his merits, he was a beggar.

Svetlana Alliluyeva

In 1966, the daughter of Joseph Stalin hurried to leave the USSR, who arrived in India in December, accompanying the civil wife of Brajesh Singh. Already there, she turned to the American embassy, ​​asking for political asylum. Subsequently, Alliluyeva moved to the States, where she published a book dedicated to the memories of life in the Union and her father.

Igor Ivanov

The Soviet chess player escaped in 1980 when he was in Cuba as part of an international tournament. Ivanov managed to break away from the KGB agent accompanying him when the plane en route to the Union had to refuel in Canada. Having managed to run out onto the runway, the chess player asked for refuge. Ivanov stopped in Montreal, after which he repeatedly represented his new homeland at tournaments and won first places. In the 1990s, he moved to the United States, but at the same time retained Canadian citizenship, working as a coach.


In the fall of 1948, Pyotr Pirogov, in the company of his friend Anatoly Barsov, flew through the Tu-2 belonging to the USSR Air Force to Austria, asking for political asylum from the US occupation authorities. Pirogov quickly settled down in a new place, took up the book and organized lectures, and then worked in the American Air Force. Barsov faced a sadder fate, since he was looking for a job for a long time, and then began to drink from the understanding that no one needed. In the USSR, if returned, he was promised to provide amnesty, but six months after his arrival in his homeland, he was shot.

Daina Palena

In the spring, a fishing boat from the USSR passing near New York gave a distress signal, because one of the waitresses working on the ship became ill. In an American hospital, it became known that a native of Latvia, in order to be in the States, took a dose of serious medicine, risking her life in the hope of asking for political asylum. She received it 18 days later.

Victor Belenko

In 1976, a Soviet pilot landed a bomber in Japan to seek political asylum from the United States. Prior to the incident, he often complained that in the States the pilots live better, they have higher income and the schedule is less busy. Belenko's permission was written directly by the President of the United States, and in the USSR he was sentenced to death in absentia.