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Maya Plisetskaya - Rest in Peace


 She was the greatest ballerina of her day and rubbed shoulders with the Kennedys and Hollywood stars.But it seems She was the greatest ballerina of her day and rubbed shoulders with the Kennedys and Hollywood stars.But it seems Maya Plisetskaya, a former principal dancer at the Bolshoi who died on Saturday aged 89, led a life more akin to the plot of a Cold War spy novel.

Recently released Soviet files suggest she was having a passionate affair with a senior diplomat at the British Embassy in Moscow and was suspected of spying for the West as a result.

It meant that for years the Communists prevented her from touring abroad.

Maya Plisetskaya was the greatest ballerina of her day, but her life was more akin to the plot of a Cold War spy novel

Before her death she had innocently claimed she was banned from leaving Russia over fears she might seek asylum abroad because of her Jewish background and disdain for communism.

Indeed she apparently remained loyal to her home country, and when her travel ban was lifted in 1959, she didn't defect like other stars of the day such as Rudolf Nureyev. 

But it seems the Soviets were one step ahead of her and suspected double-dealing all along.

In the mid-1950s, KGB agents reported she was in a sexual relationship with John Morgan, the Embassy's second secretary who would later become Ambassador to South Korea and Poland.

In a report, they described Mr Morgan picking her up in a 'big limo' and taking her to a forest where they witnessed the couple having 'amorous fun'. 

They concluded: 'Plisetskaya is believed to be a British spy.'

The claims are contained in the Mitrokhin Archive, a collection of secret Soviet documents held by Churchill College, Cambridge, that were made public for the first time last summer. 

In her 2001 autobiography, I, Maya Plisetskaya, the dancer admitted only to a chaste friendship with dashing Morgan. 

She recalled meeting the 'fair-haired, handsome young man' at a reception in Moscow where he declared himself to be a fan and begged her for tickets to her next performance. She agreed and he sent flowers to her dressing room.

She claimed they met only on two other occasions and someone else was always present.

These meetings, she wrote, led to scenes 'out of a spy thriller', adding: 'A KGB car dogged my every step, 24 hours a day.' But she went on to claim they were wrong to suspect her of having an affair or of being 'the new Mata Hari'.

Sir John died three years ago aged 83. His first wife Fionn, stepdaughter of James Bond author Ian Fleming, confirmed she knew of the affair which happened long before they married in 1961.

Miss Plisetskaya joined the Bolshoi in 1943 aged 18, and became prima ballerina in 1960. She performed for John F Kennedy in the White House in 1962 and became friends with film stars including Ingrid Bergman, Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty.

After her death, Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a message of condolence. In 2006 he awarded her a top state honour for 'services to the fatherland'.

 

By ANDREW LEVY FOR THE DAILY MAIL

, a former principal dancer at the Bolshoi who died on Saturday aged 89, led a life more akin to the plot of a Cold War spy novel.

Recently released Soviet files suggest she was having a passionate affair with a senior diplomat at the British Embassy in Moscow and was suspected of spying for the West as a result.

It meant that for years the Communists prevented her from touring abroad.

Maya Plisetskaya was the greatest ballerina of her day, but her life was more akin to the plot of a Cold War spy novel

Before her death she had innocently claimed she was banned from leaving Russia over fears she might seek asylum abroad because of her Jewish background and disdain for communism.

Indeed she apparently remained loyal to her home country, and when her travel ban was lifted in 1959, she didn't defect like other stars of the day such as Rudolf Nureyev. 

But it seems the Soviets were one step ahead of her and suspected double-dealing all along.

In the mid-1950s, KGB agents reported she was in a sexual relationship with John Morgan, the Embassy's second secretary who would later become Ambassador to South Korea and Poland.

In a report, they described Mr Morgan picking her up in a 'big limo' and taking her to a forest where they witnessed the couple having 'amorous fun'. 

They concluded: 'Plisetskaya is believed to be a British spy.'

The claims are contained in the Mitrokhin Archive, a collection of secret Soviet documents held by Churchill College, Cambridge, that were made public for the first time last summer. 

In her 2001 autobiography, I, Maya Plisetskaya, the dancer admitted only to a chaste friendship with dashing Morgan. 

She recalled meeting the 'fair-haired, handsome young man' at a reception in Moscow where he declared himself to be a fan and begged her for tickets to her next performance. She agreed and he sent flowers to her dressing room.

She claimed they met only on two other occasions and someone else was always present.

These meetings, she wrote, led to scenes 'out of a spy thriller', adding: 'A KGB car dogged my every step, 24 hours a day.' But she went on to claim they were wrong to suspect her of having an affair or of being 'the new Mata Hari'.

Sir John died three years ago aged 83. His first wife Fionn, stepdaughter of James Bond author Ian Fleming, confirmed she knew of the affair which happened long before they married in 1961.

Miss Plisetskaya joined the Bolshoi in 1943 aged 18, and became prima ballerina in 1960. She performed for John F Kennedy in the White House in 1962 and became friends with film stars including Ingrid Bergman, Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty.

After her death, Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a message of condolence. In 2006 he awarded her a top state honour for 'services to the fatherland'.

 

By ANDREW LEVY FOR THE DAILY MAIL

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