Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Durbrow)
Mr. Kapustin, Counselor of the Soviet Embassy, called to request that the Department assist the Embassy in making arrangements to turn over to the Soviet authorities in this country Ivan Matraeevich Pika,33 a Soviet seaman who deserted his ship in Portland, Oregon, on November 11, 1944. According to Mr. Kapustin, Pika was a member of the crew of the Soviet steamship Alma Ata. Mr. Pika is now apparently in the custody of the Immigration authorities in Seattle.
I told Mr. Kapustin that it might be difficult for us to comply with this request as well as his previous request to turn over to Soviet control Lobanov, another Soviet sailor who has deserted his ship in this country and about whom Mr. Kapustin made inquiry some time ago.
Mr. Kapustin stated that he felt that both these men should be turned over to the Soviet authorities since they are considered as being in the Soviet Armed Forces, and therefore have the status of military deserters.
I reminded Mr. Kapustin that over a year ago we had outlined American policy in regard to deserting seamen and explained that [Page 1141] because of this traditional policy it is not certain that it would be possible to comply with his request. I promised, however, to look into the matter and inform him in due course.
- Ivan Matveyevich Pik was a seaman (fireman) on the Soviet SS Aleut, which had reached Portland, Oregon, on April 17, 1944, to undergo repairs. He was employed on this ship until November and then on SS Alma Ata, likewise being repaired, but decided to leave this employment because of threats of deportation to his country for meeting non-Soviet persons. He was held December 30 for immigration hearings on January 4, 1945, at Seattle.↩