361.11/3489: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Davis) to the Secretary of State

1201. My 1186, August 7, 1 p.m.71 Following is text of intercepted message appearing in Wireless News of 7th instant:

“To the Foreign Secretary Christiana, Moscow, August 6th. I beg that you will make the following communication to Dr. Nansen. The Soviet Government have always been ready to grant American citizens in Russia no less privileges and courtesies than those granted in America to citizens of Soviet Russia but I regret that you have been obviously misinformed in respect of the treatment accorded in America to Russian citizens wishing to return home. According to information which we have received from America the situation there is the following, while the American Government have issued rules permitting Russian citizens to apply for permission to leave on the basis of affidavits of identity, it is practically impossible for Russians, loyal to Soviet Government, actually to leave because the issue of affidavits has been placed by the American Government under the control of former Russian consular officers with whom a Russian citizen can have no intercourse but who nevertheless are still being recognized by the American Government. The American Government thus compel a Russian citizen either not to seek permission to leave or to become a traitor to his Government by official dealings with the enemies of Russia, enemies who moreover place every obstacle in the way of Russians wishing to leave whom they suspect of sympathies with Soviet Government. The attitude of America towards Soviet Russia also makes impossible the sending of Russian ships for the conveyance of returning Russians or the chartering of ships for such a purpose and the internationally organized enmity of governments towards Soviet Russia, which is shared by the American Government, impels consular officers of countries through which Russian citizens pass if returning on vessels of other nations not to issue the necessary visas; thus every Russian citizen in America is in practice retained in America.

We note that the American Government ask for the repatriation of Kalamatiano who has been convicted as a military spy and a criminal plotter; and with some interest we note that he is designated by the American Government as an official of an American consulate notwithstanding the fact that the former American consul in Moscow, Mr. Bolls [Poole], in the Senate of the United States under oath testified that he was not employed in such a capacity. We do not find in your communication any promise from the American Government to permit the departure of Russians who have been sentenced in masses in America to long terms of prison for no other offence than that they remained loyal to Soviet Russia and in some instances in the case of Mollie Steiner, A. Epstein, and A. Pachnovski [Page 680] were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for protesting against American military activities in Russia with whom however America is at peace. The Soviet Government will gladly seek a satisfactory solution of the question raised by you if real reciprocity in this effect can be reached, if the American Government remove all obstacles now preventing Russians from leaving America, including all those who have been imprisoned for political offense, such persons to be named by our representative in the United States Ludvig Martens, if a safe conduct to Russia is granted to such persons, and finally if the Russian Government are placed in a position to provide ships to transfer Russians from America to Russia. I assure you that we will meet your request in a spirit of unquestionable fairness of which we have given so many instances to America, for instance by the unconditional release of American prisoners etc. during the unjust and unprovoked military interference by America in Russia in internal affairs. You may suggest to the United States Government that they shall enter into direct negotiations with M. Litvinoff on the aforesaid basis. The People’s Commissary for Foreign Affairs, (signed) Tchitcherin.[”]

Nansen believes nevertheless that it will be possible to effect by negotiation the repatriation of American prisoners from Russia and desires to obtain from the Department a detailed proposal of intentions of American Government which he can submit without delay to Bolshevik Government at Moscow and Litvinoff at Copenhagen. In making this suggestion he believes Reval would be most feasible destination for American refugees but inquires what shipping facilities are available for their return to the United States.

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