Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Bohlen)28

The Legal Adviser’s office has discussed the law and proceedings in the Kravchenko case with officials of the Department of Justice and [Page 1234] the situation is described in the underlying memorandum.29 In brief the legal position is as follows:

We have no extradition treaty with the Soviet Union nor any agreement for the return of deserters from our respective armed forces. It is, therefore, impossible to institute extradition proceedings against Kravchenko on the basis of the Soviet charges that he is a deserter from the armed forces.
If you indicate to the Attorney General your approval of such action, deportation proceedings can be instituted against Kravchenko. There is, however, in accordance with our practice the real possibility that the Board of Immigration Appeals will permit Kravchenko to depart from the United States to any country of his choosing and will not uphold the request for his return to the Soviet Union. If the Board of Appeals, however, should support the order of deportation to Russia, Kravchenko’s lawyers could through a writ of habeas corpus contest the decision in the courts. Any action in court would obviously give rise to violent public controversy in which unquestionably statements or possibly documentary evidence derogatory of the Soviet Union and damaging to Soviet-U.S. relations would be made public.

There is apparently no certainty under the law that the Soviet request that he be returned to the Soviet Union can be granted, and in any case the institution of deportation proceedings will certainly give rise to very undesirable publicity.30 It is suggested, therefore, that you may give consideration to calling in the Soviet Ambassador and explaining to him orally the situation under our law and practice, and asking him under the circumstances if his Government would not give consideration to allowing their request for his return to the Soviet Union to lapse.

At the same time you might care to explain to the Ambassador that if Kravchenko should engage in any public or other activity in the United States inimicable to the Soviet Union, he would be regarded by this Government as an undesirable alien and possibly on that basis the question of his deportation would be reopened. You might also care to ask the Ambassador to transmit your observations to Molotov as a personal message from you.

Charles E. Bohlen
  1. Addressed to the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs, H. Freeman Matthews; the Legal Adviser, Green H. Hackworth; and the Secretary of State.
  2. Not printed.
  3. In conversation on May 27 with Edward J. Shaughnessy, special assistant to the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Department of Justice, Richard W. Flournoy of the Legal Adviser’s office explained that the Department of State “would like to find some way to avoid having Kravchenko sent to Russia, and that at the same time it would like to avoid having publicity given to the case.” (861.01B11/156)