23. Letter From the Chairman of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (Eastland) to the Representative at the United Nations (Lodge)1

Dear Mr. Ambassador: The Senate Internal Security Subcommittee has been taking testimony for the last two weeks which now indicates very clearly that Chief Delegate Arkady Sobolev of the USSR delegation to the United Nations and his staff have exceeded the scope of their authority in their drastic efforts to persuade, force and coerce the nine Russian seamen who found sanctuary here in the United States to return to the Soviet Union.

Yesterday’s testimony, for instance, indicated that two members of Mr. Sobolev’s staff, and obviously under his direction, went into the room of one of the sailors, Viktor Solovyev, in the George Washington Hotel, New York City, and locked the door behind them. This act of violence, illegally practiced, caused terror in the heart of a young man who came here seeking asylum.

I would like to quote the following question and answer as he testified here yesterday:

“Mr. Morris (Counsel): Is there anything that the committee can do to make your living more secure at this time?

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“Mr. Viktor Solovyev: I think it would be good that the Soviet officials would be restricted in their activities so that they would not do whatever they want in this country. They are given now full freedom to act as they want and they are using this freedom to full extent now.

“Mr. Morris: Do you still feel frightened Viktor?

“Mr. Solovyev: I still feel a little bit frightened and, of course, they can still come to me, but now I think with all of the publicity we have got and all which I told the committee, I feel more secure.”

Last week the subcommittee took testimony which indicated that two Soviet citizens, who appeared to be members of the Soviet delegation, paid an unsolicited visit to Paterson, New Jersey, and called on two other seamen there, purchased three bottles of vodka and seven bottles of beer, and stayed in the humble home of these two seamen until 6:00 a.m., when the four left without explanation. Little more than twenty-four hours later, three of these four, including the two sailors, were aloft in flight to Soviet Russia.

The two Russian seamen at that time had almost two weeks’ pay coming to them at their factory. They each had a small bank account, all of which was abandoned. The landlord of the seamen described in graphic detail the condition of the boys’ room the following morning. He stated that the room was in wild disorder, with rugs rumpled, beds in disarray, records and pictures torn and shattered, and most significant of all, the shirt and undershirt which one of the seamen had been wearing at 5:30 p.m. was torn and bloody.

Since these hearings have commenced, the subcommittee has been deluged with demands that we do something in order to prevent the repetition of these terrible instances of terror in the United States.

We are weighing this evidence with a view toward strengthening the legislation that is now in existence; but, before we arrive at our conclusions in this whole matter, I am writing to you on behalf of the subcommittee to ask you to call formally upon the United Nations to do everything in its power to prevent further wanton abuse of the hospitality of the United States by Chief Delegate Sobolev and his staff. As the Secretary of State himself pointed out last week, such arrogant misconduct is in direct violation of the terms of the Headquarters Agreement between the United States and the United Nations.

Very sincerely yours,

James O. Eastland

P.S. I am enclosing a copy of yesterday’s testimony, and I direct your attention to page 3 wherein Mr. Solovyev testified that he was [Page 63] invited to go to the Park Avenue headquarters of the United Nations to see Mr. Sobolev.2

  1. Source: USUN Files, IO, Dels, USSR.
  2. Attached but not printed. Lodge replied to Senator Eastland the same day as follows: “Thank you for yours of May 1 which, of course, I have read with close attention. There can be no doubt that the type of conduct you describe is reprehensible in the extreme and I cannot condemn it too strongly. Policy on questions of this kind, must, of course, be made in Washington and I am consequently transmitting your letter immediately to the State Department.” Lodge transmitted copies of both his and Senator Eastland’s letters to Wilcox on May 1 without comment. Copies of Lodge’s letter to Eastland and to Wilcox are ibid.