311.6115/8–1448: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union


948. For Smith from Lovett. Soviet Ambassador Panyushkin called this morning regarding Kosenkina, who is now in Roosevelt Hospital, New York City, under police guard. Soviet Ambassador asserted [Page 1041] Lomakin, Soviet Consul General, was refused permission by police to accompany Kosenkina to hospital in ambulance and that four New York police officials forced their way into Consulate (subsequently, he admitted officials were invited in), searched Kosenkina’s room and took away some papers from her suit case.

Soviet Ambassador maintained these actions illegally obstructed performance of duty by Consul General and violated “extra territorial” status of Consulate. Ambassador also protested that Consul General had not been permitted to see Kosenkina at hospital.1 He demanded that Soviet Consul be permitted to post 24 hour guard at hospital, that Kosenkina be placed under Consul’s “protection”, that she be given medical care prescribed by Consul, and that she be moved to any place designated by Consul.

Ambassador was told Dept would request police report concerning alleged entry and search of Consulate. With respect to demand that Kosenkina be placed under protection of Consul, the Ambassador was told Kosenkina had been permitted to see whomever she requested to see, that if she desired to see Soviet Consul, he could see her. Dept made clear to Ambassador that Kosenkina was not under arrest, was not being detained against her will, and when her physical condition permitted, she was free to see whom she liked and go where she pleased. Ambassador was also told that in fact Soviet Vice Consul Chepurnykh was permitted to interview her even though she had not requested such interview, that she accused the Vice Consul of having kept her as a prisoner, rejected his offer to have her moved and requested him to leave, which he did. Soviet Ambassador was advised Dept would not place her under control of any person against her own wishes or move her against her wishes. Ambassador at first denied accuracy of reported interview with Chepurnykh and intimated that she was not speaking of her own free will. When confronted with newspaper account of interview,2 at which was present a Russian speaking New York detective, Ambassador said he would obtain another report from Chepurnykh concerning interview.

With respect to Soviet note (urtel 1592, Aug 12) Soviet Ambassador repeated request that alleged kidnapping of Kosenkina to Ried [Reed] Farm be investigated and guilty persons punished. Dept pointed out that Consul General had not aided police in investigation of case thus far, had refused to turn over letter allegedly written to [Page 1042] Consul General by Kosenkina from Ried [Reed] Farm and had riot permitted police to interview her while she was in Consulate. Soviet Ambassador replied that letter was personal property of Consul General and that it was not necessary to release it because at press conference at Consulate, Kosenkina had stated circumstances of her alleged kidnapping and forcible detention at Ried [Reed] Farm. For same reason Soviet Ambassador said it was unnecessary for police to interview Kosenkina at Consulate. Dept pointed out difficulty created by obstruction of investigation of serious criminal charges of this nature.

Soviet Ambassador stated he would instruct Lomakin again to demand right to see Kosenkina and if such request is made Dept has arranged with New York police to permit him to see her if medical authorities believe her condition permits interview, and if she agrees to see him.

Kosenkina has in meantime been interviewed by New York police. She denies that in her letter to Lomakin she said she had been kidnapped or was being held against her will, and states that she had departed from Ried [Reed] Farm with Consul’s party voluntarily, although frightened, that she had been held in Consulate under restraint and observation and had not been permitted to communicate with any one. Kosenkina further states that Aug 7th press conference in Consulate was held without her rquest and that she had been told what to say to the press. She says also that Ambassador Panyushkin visited her at Consulate, which Panyus[h] kin admitted this morning.

Thoughout discussion and emphatically at end thereof, Soviet Ambassador maintained right of Soviet Consul to see and, irrespective of their wishes, to take charge of Soviet citizens here. He said that Kosenkina had no right to refuse to see Consul. We cited McMillan case3 evidencing Soviet view. Department of course rejected idea of control, drawing distinction between Consul’s right to protect Soviet citizens and asserted right to control them against their desire. It was pointed out this was particularly necessary in this case in light of her statement that she had been forcibly held in the Consulate and that she had escaped by jumping from window. As in prior discussion at Dept, [Page 1043] Ambassador repeatedly accused FBI and police officials of coercing Kosenkina and Samarin, which charge was again flatly denied by Dept.

Investigation of New York police authorities still continues. Difficult to foresee outcome out of welter of present confusion and contradiction. Dept is in close touch with local authorities concerned and further information will be sent to you as case develops. Matter will be handled here with Soviet Embassy and you may advise FonOff accordingly. [Lovett.]

  1. The Department had already advised Ambassador Smith in its telegram 946 of August 13, not printed, that Vice Consul Chepurnykh had been allowed to tell Mrs. Kasenkina that Consul General Lomakin wished to visit her. (800.00 Summaries/8–1348) According to the police report of this conversation Mrs. Kasenkina had declared: “I don’t want to see you or talk to you or anyone else.” (702.6111/8–1648)
  2. See New York Times, August 14, 1948, p. 1.
  3. Sergeant James M. McMillin, Jr., was a youthful army cryptographer on duty in the military attaché’s office in the Embassy in the Soviet Union. When due to return to the United States after May 15, 1948, he informed Ambassador Smith by letter that he chose to remain in the Soviet Union. In note No. 310 of May 22 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Embassy requested that an interview with McMillin would be arranged in order that an Embassy officer could obtain his special passport and deliver a message from his father. The first response came directly from McMillin by a letter of May 31, wherein the special passport was enclosed and the statement was made that he did not wish to meet with an Embassy representative. Only in its note No. 95 of June 5 did the Foreign Ministry reply that it possessed information that McMillin did not wish to meet with a representative of the Embassy. No meeting was arranged. Documentation regarding this case is filed under 121.5461.