The Department of State to the Embassy of the Soviet Union 68


The Soviet Ambassador,69 during a conversation with Mr. Moffat on June 2, 193970 referred to the memorandum which Mr. Moffat had sent to him under cover of a letter dated May 24, 193971 relating to the registration with the Department of State of officials and employees of the Soviet Government in the United States.

The Soviet Ambassador made the point that the regulations as outlined in the circular note sent to all diplomatic missions in Washington under date of March 30, 1939, and as clarified in the memorandum sent to him by Mr. Moffat, tended to discriminate against Soviet merchants, business men and so forth, since under the Soviet system such persons are classed as governmental employees and should therefore be included in the Embassy’s reports, whereas it would not be necessary for reports to be made upon most business men of other countries. He also pointed out that such reporting would result in a heavy burden of work being placed on the Embassy.

The Soviet Ambassador apparently was also under the impression that the suggestions contained in the memorandum sent to him by Mr. Moffat, if carried out by the Soviet Embassy, would result in the Soviet mission’s being compelled to furnish information of a type which other missions would not be required to supply. He raised various questions, several of which, it seems, were put for the purpose of ascertaining whether the procedure outlined in the memorandum for reporting to the Department the presence and activities of Soviet officials in this country was more far-reaching than the procedure which other missions were expected to follow in reporting upon officials or employees of their governments in this country.

The Department’s circular note of March 30, 1939 requiring reports upon officials and employees of foreign governments in the United States was prompted by the provisions of the Act of Congress approved June 8, 1938 (Public No. 583—75th Congress). The requirements were not intended to apply to one diplomatic mission any more or less rigidly than to another. It is regretted that, in view of the large number of officials and employees of the Soviet Government in this country, the procedure will place a particularly heavy burden of routine work upon the Soviet Embassy.

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The suggestions contained in the memorandum forwarded by Mr. Moffat to the Soviet Ambassador were advanced with the purpose of simplifying, so far as possible, the procedure under which the Soviet Embassy would report the movements of Soviet officials and employees in this country, and to lighten rather than to increase the work of that Embassy. It should be emphasized that a number of these suggestions relate to methods for reporting the whereabouts and activities of those officials and employees of the Soviet Government who have no fixed place of service in the United States, and do not apply to such officials and employees who have permanent places of business in this country. It would appear from the questions put to Mr. Moffat by the Soviet Ambassador that the latter was laboring under the impression that monthly reports were required of the movements of all officials and employees of the Soviet Government in this country, regardless of whether or not the nature of their duties permitted them to have a fixed place of service or required them to engage in almost constant travel.

Attached hereto is an annex72 setting forth the specific questions raised by the Soviet Ambassador, and informal replies thereto.

  1. Handed to the Soviet Chargé on August 8, 1939.
  2. Konstantin Alexandrovich Umansky had presented his letter of credence to President Roosevelt as Soviet Ambassador on June 6, 1939.
  3. Memorandum of conversation not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.