The Embassy of the Soviet Union to the Department of State 39
At the end of 1944 the Soviet Government received knowledge of the desertion at Portland, Oregon, of two seamen of the Soviet merchant fleet, seaman-stoker, first class, Ivan Matveevich Pik who deserted from the Soviet vessel Alma Ata on November 11, 1944 and seaman Alexander Feodorovich Lobanov, who deserted from the Soviet vessel Stari Bolshevik on December 27, 1944. In spite of the demand of the Soviet Consul General in San Francisco40 for the transfer of these two deserters to the Soviet representatives, Pik and Lobanov were arrested by the Portland police and later were transported to Seattle and there handed over to the American immigration authorities.
On the 9th and 22nd of January, 1945,41 oral representations were made by the Counselor of Embassy of the U.S.S.R. in Washington, A. N. Kapustin, to Mr. Durbrow, Chief of the Eastern European Division of the State Department, regarding the transfer of Pik and Lobanov to the Soviet authorities for their despatch to the U.S.S.R. Not receiving any answer to these representations, the Soviet Embassy, through Counselor A. N. Kapustin, was obliged on the 25th and 30th of January, 1945, to approach the State Department again42 with a request to hasten a decision on the question of the transfer of Pik and Lobanov to the Soviet authorities, pointing out that, according to information in possession of the Embassy, the files of both deserters had been transmitted from Seattle to the central immigration authorities in Washington and that, as a consequence, full opportunity existed for the decision due on this matter.
In connection with the above, the attention of the State Department is drawn to the ukase of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. of May 9, 1944, in accordance with which the regulations of the ukase of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. of April 15, 1944 “regarding the institution of military status for all railroads” of the Soviet Union are applied to seamen of the merchant fleet of the U.S.S.R. In conformity with this ukase, seamen of the Soviet merchant fleet are considered in time of war as having been mobilized and are answerable for their offenses in the line of service on the same basis as military personnel of the Red Army. Cases concerning all offenses of seamen of the Soviet merchant [Page 1143] fleet must be considered by military tribunals in accordance with wartime laws.
On the basis of the above, and guided by the necessity of introducing the most severe discipline among workers of the merchant fleet of the U.S.S.R., which is particularly important for the uninterrupted delivery of war freight from the U.S.A. to the U.S.S.R., the Soviet Government cannot consider the seamen Pik and Lobanov other than military deserters, failing in their wartime duty.
The Soviet Government firmly believes that the Government of the U.S.A., in conformity with the friendly relations existing between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., will take prompt measures for the transfer of the military deserters, Pik and Lobanov, to the appropriate Soviet authorities.