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Memento : Issue 28
12 MEMENTO News from the National Archives This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of Australia's greatest political stories of the Cold War era -- the Petrov Affair. The National Archives has recently taken into custody the original letters granting Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov political asylum in Australia. These letters from Prime Minister Robert Menzies were acquired from the estate of Mrs Evdokia Petrov, with the assistance of the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Vladimir Mikaolovich Petrov defected to Australia under top-secret conditions on 3 April 1954. He had been the Third Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Canberra from February 1951. Just over two weeks later, on 20 April, his wife Evdokia Alexseyevna Petrov, also requested political asylum after she was freed from Soviet couriers by Australian authorities during a fuelling stop at Darwin airport. She had worked at the Embassy as an accountant and secretary to the Ambassador. The Petrov defections resulted in the withdrawal of the Soviet Embassy from Australia and the expulsion of the Australian Embassy from Moscow. It also led to an extensive inquiry into Soviet espionage in Australia, including a Royal Commission. The Petrov Affair, as it came to be known, had a profound impact on the political landscape of Australia. The letters the Archives has taken into custody will complement records already in our collection that relate to the Petrov Affair and the Royal Commission on Espionage. They have been digitised and can be viewed on our website at www. naa.gov.au. Click on RecordSearch and in the 'reference number' field, key in 'A12994, 1' (for Vladimir Petrov's letter) or 'A12994, 2' (for Evdokia Petrov's letter). Click on the 'View digital copy' icon to see each letter. For more information about our records on the Petrov Affair, please see Fact Sheet 130 'The Royal Commission on Espionage, 1954-55'. It is available from the Publications section of our website. Shoe still missing but Petrov letters found 'Under the floodlights of the airport I saw the milling crowd like a roaring sea around us. I lost my right shoe, and asked my escorts to get it back for me, but they would not stop.' Edvokia Petrov, 20 April 1954. Evdokia and Vladimir Petrov inside the safe house where they were held following their defection to Australia. NAA: A6285, 11