On February 14 1949, Anna Louise Strong, the founder and assistant editor-in-chief of the Moscow News, the first English-speaking newspaper of the USSR, was arrested in Moscow.
US citizen Anna Louise Strong had been a supporter of the Soviet Union since the 1917 revolution and first arrived in the country in 1921 to help the relief efforts for the Volga famine victims and to report for the International News Service. She became a strong advocate of communism and made friends with influential Soviet party members including Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov and Leon Trotsky.
She wrote many books about her life in the Soviet Union, which were widely published in the US. A preface to one of her books, The First Time in History (1924), was written by Leon Trotsky. A few years later, Trotsky was pronounced an Enemy of the People by Stalin.
In 1930, Strong founded the Moscow News and became its assistant editor-and-chief. Originally, the Moscow News was published for foreigners working in Moscow. In the 1960s it was translated into French, Spanish and Arabic and was available in 28 countries.
Strong traveled extensively through the Soviet Union and also visited China, her travels inspiring more and more books. In 1949, she returned to the USSR where she was accused of espionage and subsequently deported from the country. However, arriving back in the United States, she was not well received – ironically, her home country accused her of being a spy for the Soviets. China became the only place where she could take refuge. She ended up spending the rest of her life there, becoming an ardent supporter of Mao Zedong and the Chinese communist regime.
Strong remained loyal to the Soviet Union, and even returned for a brief visit in 1959. She tried to find out what had caused her arrest a decade before, but never learned the reason why.
According to her nephew, Tracy Strong, who tried to investigate the matter, Anna Strong’s arrest most likely had to do with her pro-Chinese sympathies, which she expressed in a book she had tried to release in the USSR. Her stance on China somewhat differed from the official position of the Soviet Union, and she refused to compromise.
Strong has been lucky compared to the original Moscow News editor-in-chief Mikhail Borodin. He was arrested around the same time as Strong, but died in prison two years later. The newspaper was then closed and not reopened until six years later, following Stalin’s death.