The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Davies) to the Secretary of State

No. 1281

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s despatch No. 961 of February 18, 1938 (File No. 620),68 in which was set forth the treatment accorded by the Soviet Customs officials to members of the diplomatic corps in Moscow, including members of the American Embassy, and in particular to Articles No. 2 and 3 of enclosure No. 3 to the despatch under reference.

The “special book of registration”69 referred to in Article 3 in which is recorded the duties assessed by the Customs on all shipments addressed to the Embassy, other than those addressed to the Ambassador or to the Chargé d’affaires ad interim, which are excepted by subdivision (a) of Article 2, has been maintained by the Customs on behalf of the Embassy since the opening of the mission in 1934.

After numerous requests over a long period the Embassy has finally received an oral statement from Mrs. Burshtein of the Protocol Section of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs that the Embassy’s annual quota of duties which are non-payable is Rubles 60,000, and that the total debits against the Embassy for the calendar years 1934–1937 are as follows:

1934 Rubles 3,588,473.61
1935 1,384,348.77
1936 1,369,373.33
1937 2,116,191.27

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According to this information, the net debit against the Embassy at the end of 1937 is Rubles 8,218,386.98 (i. e., Rubles 8,458,386.98 less Rubles 240,000).

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
A. I. Ward

Second Secretary of Embassy
  1. Not printed; filed in the Department under 661.11241/20.
  2. This was a record book in which was specified the amount of duty that would be rebated annually by the Soviet authorities to each Chief of Mission. All amounts in excess of this quota were supposed to be payable, although in practice the Soviet Government usually did not endeavor to collect these duties.