Mom, Dad Were Russian Spies, and He Just Won Citizenship

Alexander Vavilov can live in Canada. His parents' story inspired 'The Americans'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2019 9:03 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2019 12:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Alexander Vavilov was born in Toronto 25 years ago. Under normal circumstances, that would automatically give him Canadian citizenship. His particular circumstances, however, were anything but normal. Vavilov's parents were secret Russian spies who were eventually unmasked—a case that inspired the hit TV series The Americans. Vavilov has been fighting to regain his Canadian citizenship for years, insisting he never knew about his parents' spy work, and the nation's top court just decided in his favor. Coverage:

  • His parents: Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova trained as spies in Russia and moved to Toronto, assuming the names Tracey Lee Ann Foley and Donald Howard Heathfield, reports the New York Times. They took their IDs from Canadian infants who died. The couple ran a diaper delivery business, but their real job was gathering intelligence for the KGB.
  • The sons: The couple had two children: Timothy came first and Alexander four years later, in 1994. Both insist they never knew about their parents' secret lives.

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