861.5151/185: Telegram

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

144. During the past week the Soviet authorities have been insisting that all American citizens in the Soviet Union and Soviet-occupied territories with the exception of the Embassy staff, American engineers under contract with the Soviet Government and bona fide American newspaper correspondents pay for their railroad transportation from Moscow, Vladivostok in United States currency. As many American citizens do not possess and cannot obtain the substantial amount of American currency that is necessary this requirement is tantamount to a denial of freedom of movement as it either delays or prevents American citizens from departing from the Soviet Union. I have suggested to the Soviet authorities that hereafter Soviet citizens with the exception of Government officials, Soviet engineers under contract with the United States Government and bona fide Tass56 correspondents deposit with the Embassy at the time American visas are delivered [Page 869] to them an amount of rubles adequate to permit the Embassy to obtain railroad transportation for them from San Francisco to New York at an exchange rate to be fixed by the Embassy. The Soviet authorities have not yet decided whether they will resume the acceptance of their own currency from American citizens in payment for transportation within the Soviet Union.

  1. Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, official communication agency of the Soviet Government.