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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nureyev Defection Files

LONDON -- Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev made a split-second decision to defect to France in 1961 after being ordered to return to Moscow, according to KGB archives cited by the Daily Telegraph on Thursday.

The British newspaper said Russian intelligence files on one of the Soviet Union's most celebrated defections were recently declassified after Nureyev was posthumously rehabilitated.

The star of the Kirov ballet in St. Petersburg, then Leningrad, appealed for political asylum in France in June 1961, during his first trip abroad. He was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison in his native Soviet Union.