51. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

    • Soviet Violations of US-Soviet Agreements

In four recent incidents the Soviet government has violated the notification, access, and communication provisions of the US-Soviet Consular Convention.2 Previously accepted interpretation of the Convention and [Page 164] Protocol has also been called into question. On November 12 State handed Ambassador Dobrynin a note expressing US concern over three of the incidents.3 In brief, the four cases are:

Slepuchow: On May 25, 1970, Mrs. Maria Slepuchow, a US national, was detained in the Soviet Union. The Soviet government informed US consular officials of the detention on June 1 and granted consular access to her on June 6. The Convention (Article 12, paragraph 3) calls for notification to be given specifically within one to three days from the time of arrest or detention. A US consular officer is to be allowed the right to visit and communicate with a detained US national within two to four days (Protocol, paragraph 2). In the case of Mrs. Slepuchow, both notification and access occurred beyond the times prescribed.
Galinovski: Mrs. Olga Galinovski, a US national, was detained in the Soviet Union on October 17, 1970. US consular officials were informed nine days later; consular access to her was permitted eleven days later. Again, both notification and access occurred beyond the times prescribed. In addition, the Soviet government prevented Mrs. Galinovski from communicating with US consular officials after her detention.
Scherrer : In the recent airplane incident in which Major General Edward Scherrer, Brigadier General Claude McQuarrie, and Major James Russell were detained on Soviet territory, beginning October 21, the Soviet government did not allow consular access until five days later (despite seven official US requests beginning October 22). Moreover, the Soviets prevented General Scherrer from communicating with US consular officials by telephone. Requests by US consular officials for telephone or telegraph communication were also refused.
Rigerman : In a less clearcut case, Leonid Rigerman who claimed US citizenship through his father, was twice forcibly prevented by Soviet militiamen from entering Embassy Moscow on November 9 for the purpose of obtaining new copies of some documents and instructions. Rigerman was arrested and sentenced to seven days imprisonment for not following militiamen’s orders. US consular officials have stated to the Soviets their belief that Rigerman, an American citizen unless adjudicated otherwise, was denied right of entry to the Embassy under Article 12 of the Convention. Subsequently, after an initial review, State concluded that Rigerman probably cannot be considered a US citizen on the basis of evidence presently available. But the principle of right of access for a person who claims American citizenship nevertheless was violated.

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In efforts to explain or cover up the arbitrary handling of American citizens in these cases, Soviet officials have repeatedly tried to reinterpret the Consular Convention. They have challenged our understanding on such points as: the definition of “detention,” “access on a continuing basis,” application of the Convention to US citizens who claim dual nationality, and the rights of detained citizens to deal with local officials and to communicate privately. The Soviets seem to want to engage us in a renegotiation of portions of the Convention. We are holding up further discussion of interpretation pending receipt of the Soviet response to our Note. State is pressing for an early response.

Apart from these problems, which have a clearly defined legal basis, there continues to be problems over such matters as

  • —harassment and expulsion of US journalists;
  • —Soviet footdragging on our commercial air agreement, e.g., refusal of Soviet travel agencies to ticket Soviet travelers and others requesting tickets in Moscow on the US carrier PanAm.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 713, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. X. Confidential. Sent for information. Sonnenfeldt submitted a similar memorandum to Haig on November 16. After showing it to Kissinger, Haig returned it two days later with the following instructions: “Hal—Great job—HAK has asked this be turned into memo for Pres.” (Ibid.) Sonnenfeldt forwarded the revised memorandum to Kissinger on November 19. (Ibid.) According to an attached note, Nixon saw the memorandum on December 9—possibly in preparation for his press conference the next day.
  2. The U.S.-Soviet Consular Convention was signed on June 1, 1964, and entered into force on July 13, 1968. (19 UST 5018; TIAS 6503) For background on its negotiation, signature and ratification, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIV, Soviet Union. For the text, see Department of State Bulletin, June 22, 1964, pp. 979–984.
  3. Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State Curry forwarded a copy of the note to Haig on November 16. Haig wrote on the copy: “HAK—text of our note to Soviets on generals.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 713, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. X)