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In the highly charged atmosphere of the Cold War, the 1954 defection of Soviet diplomats Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov detonated under Australian politics like a nuclear explosion. From the moment the famous photo of Soviet thugs manhandling Evdokia Petrova across the Mascot tarmac hit the newstands, the case was a popular sensation. By the time ALP leader Doc Evatt had initiated his spectacular political self-destruction before the subsequent royal commission and triggered the events that led to the ALP’s electoral obliteration in the 1950s and ’60s, its place in history was assured.
Robert Manne’s classic The Petrov Affair is the definitive account, now revised, of the defection and its aftermath.