Sergey and Lina Prokofiev left Paris for a Russian tour of two months on January 13, 1927, seen off by the Borovskys and the Samoilenkos. They left Moscow to return to France on March 23, the day that Alexander Borovsky arrived there. Prokofiev: “Borovsky looked slightly stunned; arriving back in Russia had had a powerful effect on him and he was obviously worried whether he was about to face success or failure, not to mention what the Bolshevik’s attitude to him would be: might they arrest him? Although it was difficult to imagine how they could: he had taken the precaution of becoming a Latvian citizen.”… “We had lunch with Borovsky in the Prechistenki restaurant, where he consumed the Russian dishes with evident relish.”
Early in April 1927, Alexander urged Moussia to join him and indeed she went, to the amazement of Prokofiev because until then, she had not shown much enthusiasm to go back to the USSR. I think that her change of mind had something to do with her search for her brother Julian (see article 8). Borovsky may have told her that someone managed to arrange an appointment for her. Once again, Moussia demonstrated her personal courage: in Moscow, she went to see the acting head of the OGPU, Genrikh Yagoda, demanding that she should see her brother who, she thought, was held in Lubyanka prison.
Her network of relatives and friends must have made this appointment possible. Two of her uncles by marriage were brothers of the Polish Felix Dzierzynski, the renegade of his family (article 5) and “Iron Felix” was still a magic name in Russia (as he has until today, in 2013). Wiaczeslaw Mezynski was a Russian hereditary nobleman of Polish descent like Vladimir Baranovsky. But when she entered Lubyanka Prison, she was confronted by the feared Yagoda.
Yagoda received her with courtesy, he told her that in preparation for her visit he had asked his people to look through all the files, but that Julian was not found on any of their lists. A very worried Moussia left Lubyanka, built adjacent to a Roman Catholic church, Saints Peter and Paul, where two of her Nowicki relatives had once served as priests.
Alexander’s tour also took him to Leningrad. There, Moussia went straight to the apartment which had belonged, maybe still belonged, to Vladimir and his parents and where she had lived prior to her departure from Russia in 1917: Apartment 10 at 59, Bolshaya Puskarshkaya Street (see article 9, text and photo). She must have been ‘accompanied’by an Intourist ‘guide’.
To her amazement, she found the linens, which she had bought prior to her marriage with Vladimir Baranovsky, still in her dresser. “But,” said Fern (Scull) Barstow, Vladimir’s wife from 1924 onwards, during her 1990 taped interview, “Moussia was not even allowed to take back one of her towels”.
On the way back to Paris, in May 1927, the Borovskys made a stopover in Poland, where the pictures below were taken. There, they picked up Natasha, whom Moussia had left with a relative when she was on the way to Moscow. On June 9, 1927, Prokofiev wrote in his Diary: “The Borovskys have returned from Moscow, Maria Viktorovna full of complaints. Borovsky played thirty-two concerts.
Natasha, May 1927
Natasha in Poland, 1927, in wintercoat bought ‘on the growth’
(to be continued)