Do Not Renounce When You in Love: Wives of Soviet Defectors and the Burden of the Moral and Ideological Choice

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In the article based on the material of some cases related to the second half of the 1950s–the first half of the 1960s and associated with some Soviet "defectors" of those years (state security officer Yuri Nosenko, researcher Alexei Golub, writer Alexander Cheishvili), the issue of the relationship between political and ideological attitudes and family values in Soviet society during the “thaw” period is considered. Based on the analysis of archival documents previously not introduced into scientific circulation and published sources, the authors confirm that loyalty to the spouse and loyalty to the Motherland were considered in close coordination as consistent and causing public approval of the model of expected behavior. The situation of defectors from abroad, which at the official level was interpreted as treason to the Motherland, demanded that the wives of the “defectors” renounce their marriage partners, who were actually considered as “double traitors” (even despite the absence of an adulterer situation on their part). In addition, despite the most positive attitude towards the institution of marriage and family values in the USSR, there was no doubt that in the event of a moral and ideological conflict, personal feelings had to be subordinated to the political interests of the country, and in their official interpretation.

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