89. Message From the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon1

I am instructed to underline that this information is addressed in a confidential way for the President and Dr. Kissinger. Having in mind their expressed wishes and in the interests of better understanding by the White House of the real state of affairs we give to the President the information on the question which falls completely within the internal jurisdiction of the Soviet state. We expect that this fact will be duly appreciated and hope that the White House will use the information in the interests of the Soviet-American relations.2

Applications of Soviet citizens, who wish to go for permanent residence to other countries, are considered and decisions concerning such applications are made on the individual basis with concrete circumstances taken into account. As a rule, these requests are granted. For example, speaking about persons, who in 1972 expressed the desire to go to Israel, such permissions were received by 95,5% of those, who made the applications. A similar approach on this matter will be maintained [Page 302] in the future.3 Incidentally, it can be noted that more than two thousand people, who received the permission to leave for Israel in 1972, in the end did not wish to make use of those permissions.

Therefore, a noisy campaign waged in the Western countries concerning strict limitations, allegedly existing in the USSR, on the departure for foreign countries is obviously artificial and ill-meaning.

As for the question about the refunding of state educational expenses by Soviet citizens leaving for permanent residence abroad, the decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet of August 3, 1972 and a decision taken in accordance with it by the USSR Council of Ministers on this question allow, while giving permissions to Soviet citizens to leave for abroad, to exempt them fully from reimbursing the mentioned expenses.

Thus, the authorities, when considering the applications of Soviet citizens who wish to go abroad, have the right to make decisions of collecting from those persons only state duties, usual in such cases, and that is what they are being guided by. Accordingly, only such usual and insignificant duties, which were also collected before the decree of August 3, 1972, are being collected and will be collected from the persons, who are leaving the Soviet Union for permanent residence in other countries. It goes without saying that, as it is done in other states, we have cases and may have such cases in the future when citizens are denied permission to go abroad because of the state security reasons.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 15. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed by D to K, 10:30 am, 3/30/73.” According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, he met with Dobrynin from 10:30 to 11:10 a.m. on March 30. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1967–76) In a note to Kissinger, April 5, Sonnenfeldt wrote: “This statement goes a long way toward giving assurances that the education tax provisions of the decree of August 3, 1972, have been set aside and will remain so. The reference to a decision by the Council of Ministers gives this assurance additional weight.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 67, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Map Room, Aug. 1972–May 31, 1973 [1 of 3])
  2. Apparently, the Soviets had presented an earlier statement to Kissinger on the exit fee issue. A transcript of a telephone conversation between Kissinger and Dobrynin on March 17 reads in part: “K: Well, on the MFN I can already answer. D: Yes, what is answer. K: We think it will go through the House in the first week of August. D: I see. K: And in the Senate, oh, sometime during October we think. D: October, yeah. Just approximate so to speak. K: Yeah. D: What could—are you sure now things will go right? K: Well, we are meeting with the Congressional people tomorrow on—with your paper. And we can hand that out, can we? D: What can you hand? K: We can give them the text which you gave us. D: I think it’s better to say, not to give them the text. K: Not to give it. D: Just to read it. I think you can give just a summary, that’s all.” The earlier Soviet statement was not found. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations (Telcons), Box 19, Chronological File)
  3. Sonnenfeldt wrote in his April 5 note to Kissinger: “As regards the volume of emigration, the statement reiterates previous assertions that 95.5 percent of the applications for emigration are being acted on favorably. This fails to deal with one of the principal arguments of the supporters of the Jackson amendment: that people are being deterred from applying in the first place; and that many of those who do apply are then persecuted.” Sonnenfeldt continued: “In terms of the Congressional Problem, it would of course be helpful if additional assurances can be obtained that there will be no actions to deter applications and no reprisals against those who do apply, even in the period between application and actual departure.”
  4. Sonnenfeldt wrote in his April 5 note to Kissinger: “Incidentally, the reference to denial of permission to emigrate for state security reasons is, I believe, consistent with the Human Rights convention.”