123. Memorandum From Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Moscow Chimney Affairs

The Soviets are stepping up their campaign to put us on the defensive in the “Moscow Chimney” affairs while continuing to physically violate our embassy property. Yesterday the Soviets went public with their outrageous charge in TASS that we are making unlawful alterations to the heating facility of the neighboring Soviet building, charges that we are making unfounded and provacative allegations about Soviet electronic surveillance of the embassy, and threatening to reveal “subversive activities” conducted from the U.S. embassy building. At the same time, the Soviets are continuing to physically penetrate the chimney—U.S. sovereign territory—to the extent that we have been [Page 414] forced to erect a second barrier to keep them out. In a word, this is “outrageous.”

State proposes to release the text of our original diplomatic protest as a rebuttal. I believe we should go one step further and document our case, at least on deep background, to a few responsible journalists. The basis for this “factual” briefing would be the just completed “Preliminary Find Report” [2 lines not declassified] Just to prove our point we could run them through the history of this incident and show the pictures.

RECOMMENDATION: That you authorize me, working through Jerry Schecter, to provide a few key journalists with a deep background factual briefing on the Moscow chimney affairs.2

Tab A

Preliminary Find Report Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency3

Washington, undated



On 25 May 1978 at 11:00 a.m. Moscow time during an audio countermeasures investigation of a 7th floor apartment on the west side of the south wing of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, a [text not declassi-fied] antenna was found abutting a chimney. The antenna [4 lines not declassified]

[3 paragraphs (13 lines) not declassified]

A wall was built in the tunnel on U.S. property and all equipment and cables on our property have been secured.

As of this time, 7 June, on-site analysis is in progress. We do not know the purpose of the equipment. We know that it is a receiving antenna, but we do not know what it may be picking up. It offers the threat of listening to conversations in apartments near the chimney and in official offices of the Embassy.

[Page 415]


The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is composed of three connected buildings oriented north and south. The center building is the Chancery. The north and south buildings are primarily residential apartments.

a. South Building: This structure has seven floors, an attic, a basement and a subbasement. It is made primarily of brick. It matches floor-to-floor the floor levels in the Chancery for the seven floors of its height. The Chancery has 10 floors. It is a corner structure, so it has no adjoining buildings to the south or east. To the west, it adjoins a Soviet apartment building up to approximately the fifth floor.

b. Chimney: There is a chimney which (above the fifth floor south wing) protrudes from the west side of the south wing. It seems to come from the Soviet apartment roof (two floors below the south wing roof), is attached to our south wing west wall, and terminates in a standard chimney cap about 15 feet above the south wing roof (on the west edge). The outside dimensions of this chimney are roughly five feet square. The inside dimensions are roughly four feet square (as will be seen below).

c. Soviet Apartment Complex: This exists to the west of our south wing complex described above. There are five stories plus an attic. Their fifth story, however, does not seem to correspond directly to ours. The attic peak seems to come to our fifth or sixth floor level. Their first floor (or basement?) is slightly below ground level. The windows are much smaller (like what you would have in the basement of some American homes). We have never noticed any lights on in these windows at night.

d. Below the fifth floor, the chimney structure is inside our building. There is a small room approximately six by fifteen feet in each apartment that abuts the chimney on the six foot side (to the south) and the Soviet apartment on the fifteen foot side (to the west). On the ground floor of the south wing is the charwomen’s changing room.

2. On 25 May, a hole (1) (2) was made in the seventh floor wall of the chimney in apartment 7A. (Numbers in brackets are keyed to attached photographs.)4 [7 lines not declassified]

[4 pages (30 paragraphs) not declassified]

17. We are continuing tests of the antenna.

[1 paragraph (19 lines) not declassified]


[1 page (8 paragraphs) not declassified]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Unfiled Files, Box 152, USSR: Technical Penetration of US Embassy in Moscow: 5–6/78. Secret. Sent for action. Inderfurth and Aaron also initialed the memorandum.
  2. Brzezinski indicated his approval of this recommendation. In the margin he wrote, “JS [Jerry Schecter] to coordinate with State. ZB.”
  3. Secret.
  4. Not found attached.