35. Memorandum From Winston Lord of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

    • Feeler from Soviet Embassy Official Concerning the Americans Being Held in Armenia

At 7:30 this evening John Price of Mr. Ehrlichman’s staff came to me with a bizarre feeler from the Soviets which he asked me to pass to you directly.

Last night at midnight Victor Tchernyshev, a Second Secretary in the Soviet Embassy here and reputedly their KGB man in the Embassy, called Theodore Barreaux, an American who works for OEO.2 Barreaux, who is a friend of Price, has known Tchernyshev for a long time. Tchernyshev said he had an important message and Barreaux met with him in the Mayflower Hotel at 5:00 p.m. this afternoon.

In their meeting Tchernyshev told Barreaux that it would be very useful if he got the following information to the President. He said it would be advantageous for the United States to consider the following proposal with regard to the three Americans whose plane strayed over the Turkish/Soviet border and are being held by the Soviets. The proposal is a trade of the Americans for the two Soviet citizens who hijacked the Aeroflot plane and are being held by the Turks, and Ivanov, the Soviet spy we have been holding for some time. (You will recall that Dobrynin recently raised the Ivanov case with you.)3 Tchernyshev added that “I cannot guarantee their health.” He closed by saying that this proposal should not go through Rogers to Dobrynin, but that any response should go directly to him, Tchernyshev.4

[Page 136]


I have never met Price before and do not know Barreaux. Weird (and outrageous) as this proposal is, I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the story Price told me.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. 3. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. A copy was sent to Haig. Kissinger, who had been with Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, returned to Washington with the Presidential party on November 4 at 9:34 p.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. Barreaux was vice chairman and senior adviser, Planning and Review Commission, Office of the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Executive Office of the President.
  3. See Document 29.
  4. No evidence has been found to indicate that Kissinger sent a response, either directly or indirectly, to Tchernyshev.