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Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK

World: Americas

Not following in father's footsteps

The Khrushchevs take the oath and become American citizens

Forty years after his father threatened to "bury" US capitalism, Sergei Khrushchev has become a US citizen.

At a ceremony in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday, the son of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev took the oath of alleigance, alongside his wife Valentina Golenko.

The elderly couple, holding small American flags, stood together with 247 other aspiring American citizens in a mass swearing-in ceremony without fanfare and distinguished only by a group of photographers gathered at their feet.

Sergei Khrushchev moved to the US eight years ago and is currently lecturing on international relations at Brown University, Rhode Island.

He still maintains a country home and a flat in Russia where his three grown-up sons live.

[ image:  ]
"Russia and the USA are no longer enemies and it is quite natural for someone from another country to take US citizenship," he told Russian radio.

His first trip to the United States was with his father at the height of the Cold War.

Smiling Americans

Then he remembered finding Americans to be "more friendly than expected" saying that they smiled more.

A communist in his youth, he dismissed the view that he would be seen as a traitor in Russia.

"People over there, really much more than here, they are less under the pressure of old ideology," he said.

[ image: Would Nikita turn in his grave?]
Would Nikita turn in his grave?
He also refused to speculate on what his father would have said. "It is impossible to move a political figure from one era to another," he said.

Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier in 1958 and was in charge during the Cuban missile crisis - the closest many believe that the world came to nuclear conflict during the Cold War.

He was replaced by Leonid Brezhnhev in 1964 and died in 1971.

One slip

Three weeks ago, in his test for US citizenship that all aspiring citizens have to pass, Khrushchev was embarrassed to admit he got one answer wrong.

Asked what kind of government the United States has, he replied "the president and the cabinet."

"The right answer was democratic," he said.

In any case, he passed because the test only requires a 60% pass rate.

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