Elizabeth's mother is mainly seen in flashbacks as Elizabeth remembers key moments in her life.
She is portrayed as a stern and very serious person. As a bookkeeper for her local Communist party committee, she was an ardent Soviet patriot and firm believer in the Communist dream.
Elizabeth's mother was a single parent for most of Elizabeth's life. Her husband was a coal miner who died during World War II as a deserter.
Shown to be a proud, yet economically-challenged, self-sufficient woman, Elizabeth's mother refuses a donation of considerable rations, telling a young Elizabeth that the man would have wanted something back in return.
Contact between Elizabeth and her mother is maintained after her deployment in America via cassette recordings that are passed through Gabriel. An example of one recording:
- "My darling Nadezhda: This year has been hard. Your uncle, Anatoli, in the fall I noticed he was starting to forget things. Now he's...it's like he's not here anymore. When we were children he was the smartest one in the family. Good at math, good at everything. After you left, I saw him much more. And now...well, I miss you so much. I'm sure it's hard for you to hear over and over how much I miss you, but it’s the truth. You always did insist on the truth. They brought me a picture of you this year, with your children. And husband. Your family is so beautiful. I look at it every day. You look happy, Nadezhda. I know I'll never meet them, but knowing you have them, that makes me happy. They are my family too..."
In November 1982, Elizabeth learns that her mother is dying. ("EST Men") Prompted by this and that Paige may never meet her grandmother, Elizabeth and Philip arrange, without KGB permission, for Elizabeth and Paige to meet with Elizabeth's mother one last time.
When Elizabeth reunites with her mother, she bears little resemblance to the physically strong woman Elizabeth remembers. Now bound in a wheelchair, Elizabeth's mother reflects on the many years that have passed since their last meeting, but defends her decision to let Elizabeth join the KGB by saying "I had to let you go. Everything was at stake." ("March 8, 1983")