702.6111/314: Telegram

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

1059. Department’s 272, December 9, 2 p.m. The Soviet customs regulations provide for the examination of the accompanying baggage of foreign consular officers, other than principal officers of Consulates in the Soviet Union, notwithstanding the possession of diplomatic passports by such consular officers. Not only have these regulations [Page 865]been enforced but the Foreign Office has informed the Embassy orally on repeated occasions that exceptions to these rules cannot be granted to American consular officers, as to grant such exceptions would discriminate against the consular officers of other countries. Among the consular officers of this Mission bearing diplomatic passports to whom this regulation has been applied have been Johnson, Murray, Minor, Cherp, Waller, Costello and McKee. Furthermore the accompanying baggage of American consular officers possessing diplomatic passports has been examined although the officers were merely in transit to posts outside the Soviet Union, such as William Langdon, Maurice Pasquet, Robert Ward, Gerald Warner and Arthur Ringwalt. In some cases it has been possible to obviate the examination by giving the officer courier status. The situation with respect to non-accompanying baggage is much worse in that the effects of all American diplomatic and consular officers including myself are subject to the most minute examination both at the time of entry and at the time of departure. As reported in my despatch No. 83 of September 26 this year the examination of my personal effects which did not accompany me on the same train required 4 days and during this period my effects were placed under seal each afternoon at 4:30 and I was thereby denied access to my own effects inside my own Embassy until after 10:30 of the following morning. Insofar as concerns officers other than the Ambassador or the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim they are required both at the time of arrival and again at the time of departure to take all their effects not accompanying them on the train to the customhouse for these examinations—to unpack them there and in the case of shipments leaving the country repack them finally within the customhouse after minute examination although under pressure exceptions have been made including Chipman and Dickerson this week.