861.20211 Gubitchev, Valentine/4–2949: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kohler) to the Secretary of State


1088. Author Literary Gazette article Gubichev case April 27, Eugene Korovin1 (Embtel 1066 April 282) is Soviet Union’s number [Page 791] one international law expert. Besides being Professor Moscow University he serves same capacity Foreign Service Training School Soviet Foreign Office. He is known as regular adviser on international law to Foreign Office and has served on official Soviet Delegation UNO.

Article with specific reference Foreign Office documents obviously prepared in Foreign Office. Accordingly absolutely clear this article intended as indirect but no less official communication to US. Fact it published in Literary Gazette instead, for example, Soviet Government organ Izvestiya, probably indicates it is warning rather than direct prelude to reprisal action, which presumably will still depend on developments. However, basis clearly laid for reprisal which must certainly be expected in due course, and probably in form considered appropriate.3 That is, if Gubichev tried, found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment, same can be expected for one of our staff here; if tried, acquitted and deported, one of our staff is sure to go through same process with same delay in custody awaiting “trial” before being released.

In circumstances, I must reiterate hope expressed Embtel 598 March 84 case can be resolved by deportation, even under suspended sentence, instead imprisonment. If case must follow “normal course,” then trust that course can be expedited. Meanwhile, believe advisable Department promptly take cognizance Literary Gazette article, issuing full analysis and rebuttal and pointing out Korovin’s threat of reprisals not only not sanctioned by modern international law but reversion ancient barbaric practices.5 Moreover, in view known status author and patent fact attempt of member government maintain diplomatic status incompatible with obligations as international servants assumed by individuals employed by UN, suggest Department consider bringing this question before appropriate UN organ. Official position Soviet Government seems in direct conflict that of UN as expressed Secretary General Lie and matter concern all UN members, especially in view clear reprisal threat.

Foregoing based on assumption we really have goods on Gubichev. If we do not, then I could only regard attempted prosecution as criminal irresponsibility on part FBI jeopardizing members Embassy [Page 792] staff. Soviet Government suffers from neither legal nor moral inhibitions like those affecting us, and we must not lightly get into reciprocal witch hunt.

  1. Yevgeny Alexandrovich Korovin, in addition to several other positions, was Director of the Institute of Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union.
  2. Not printed. The Embassy also sent a translation of this article in despatch No. 250 from Moscow on April 30.
  3. According to the translation of his article in despatch No. 250, Korovin summed up his viewpoint on this topic with these words: “Since the subject of this infringement of law was a diplomatic official of the USSR, this infringement of law is moreover an act of illegal discrimination against the Soviet Union. Such actions give the state which has suffered the right either to demand appropriate satisfaction (moral or material) from the government which has broken the law, or to apply answering repressive action against citizens and diplomatic officials of the state which has set out on the path of infringement of international law.” (861.20211 Gubitchev, Valentine/4–3049)
  4. Not printed.
  5. The Department of State did issue a statement to the press on May 6 explanatory of the reasons why Gubichev did not possess diplomatic immunity. See Department of State Bulletin, May 15, 1949, pp. 636–637 for the text.