150. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

2329. Pass USIA. Deptel 1817, Emb A–1132, 1158, 1183, 1186.2

Soviets over past year have grown increasingly frustrated over contrast between avid demand for Amerika in USSR (Swedish correspondent just telephoned to say queue today at Gorky street bookstore for Amerika’s was longest line-150 meters-he had ever seen in queue-laden Moscow) and lack of success Soviet Life in US. Recent manifestations this frustration (see referenced airgrams) have led us to conclusion Soviets likely to press in negotiations for reduction or curtailment present 60,000 agreed circulation.
As Amerika is highly effective medium, widely known in USSR, first and only American magazine available to Soviet readers, provides striking and attractive visual depiction American life and, hopefully, represents first wedge in our efforts to open Soviet society to American periodicals, Emb assumes we will wish to defend US interest involved to maximum our ability in negotiations. Should we voluntarily curtail circulation Soviets will have achieved their aim without confronting our strong opposition at conference table and would certainly be greatly encouraged to consider effort eliminate magazine altogether. If this is their objective, we could probably expect to receive additional and increasing returns on 40,000 copies in manner similar to experience leading to previous cessation of publication of Amerika. Additional returns could then be cited at negotiations to justify Soviet position interest in Amerika falling off.
I strongly recommend we continue to exercise right to circulate 60,000 copies. To meet obvious difficulty we would now have defending indefinite continuation present method of mailing returned copies, [Page 374]we could mail them registered mail (Wiener letter to Davies Jan 20).3 Personnel for addressing registry forms would become problem but we can handle it temporarily. We sent 100 copies of returns by registered mail Jan 8 and have already received 42 receipts.
No copies Amerika returns now on hand. (A–1186.)
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Vol. XI. Confidential; Limdis. No time of transmission appears on the telegram but it was received in the Department of State at 1:01 p.m. on January 26.
  2. Dated January 24, 18, 21, 25, and 25 respectively, they all discussed various aspects of the disparity in the distribution of Amerika in the Soviet Union and Soviet Life in the United States. (Telegrams 1817 and 1186 and airgram A–1132; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, PPB 10 US; the other two airgrams are ibid., CUL 9–6 USSR)
  3. Not found.