361.1115 Robinson, Donald L./74: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

25. My 14, January 17, 10 p.m.38

1. Vinogradov, Weinberg’s assistant, telephoned me at 5:30 this evening and stated that Weinberg had instructed him to advise me as follows: (a) The woman in question entered the country in possession of a passport in the name of Ruth Norma Robinson; (b) her Soviet visa was valid; (c) the internal authorities state that it would be inconvenient for the Embassy to visit her in prison until after investigations of her had been completed.

2. I pointed out to Vinogradov that according to Litvinov’s note of November 16, 1933, requests made for representatives of the American Government to visit American nationals under arrest were to be granted without delay. I said that I understood that investigations may last for many months; that the investigation of Mrs. Rubens had already been going on for 5 weeks; and that I was sure that if I should transmit his reply to my Government the American authorities would obtain the impression that the Soviet Government was not strictly living up to the promise made by Litvinov. I asked him if I could not speak to Weinberg and he replied that Weinberg was not available at the moment. I requested him to ask Weinberg if the latter would not again take up the matter of the visit with the internal authorities, drawing their attention to the promise contained in Litvinov’s note. I said that I would delay telegraphing my Government until later in the evening pending a further reply from Weinberg.

3. Vinogradov replied that he would try to convey my message to Weinberg and would telephone me later. He added that the 22nd and 23rd are Soviet holidays and that no action could be taken in any event until the 24th.

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4. At 7:00 o’clock Vinogradov telephoned that Weinberg had instructed him to state that the promise contained in the Litvinov note was worded precisely like the protocol to the German agreement39 which had always been interpreted to mean that the representative could visit a prisoner only after investigations had been concluded.

The internal authorities permitted the foreign representatives of no country to visit their nationals in prison during the course of investigations and could make no exception with respect to the United States.

5. I told Vinogradov that I would convey this message to my Government but I was certain that it could not accept such an interpretation of Litvinov’s promise.

  1. Not printed.
  2. The text of the supplementary protocol of December 21, 1928, to the German-Soviet agreement of October 12, 1925, is quoted in the letter of November 16, 1933, to President Roosevelt from Litvinov, p. 33.