214. Oral Message From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Carter1

Leonid Brezhnev, with bewilderment, and, speaking frankly, with indignation, has learned that the American authorities have forcefully prevented the departure from New York of a Soviet airliner for almost an entire day, insisting without any basis on the exit from the aircraft of a Soviet citizen, Lyudmila Vlasova, who is aboard.

American representatives had the opportunity to speak with L. Vlasova aboard the aircraft and she firmly informed them that she is flying from New York to Moscow of her own volition and without any kind of coercion. At the same time, she categorically refused to leave the aircraft. If the President wishes to be assured of this, then he can commission one of his own trusted officials in New York to speak personally with L. Vlasova aboard the aircraft.

But it is impossible to consider seriously that Soviet officials or the crew of the aircraft will either force or will allow the American representatives to force L. Vlasova to leave the aircraft and find herself in the hands of those who clearly and in premeditated fashion are seeking to provoke a conflict which is neither in the interests of the Soviet Union nor of the United States.

L.I. Brezhnev hopes that President Carter will treat with due attention this approach to him and that the illegal actions—even more than [Page 636] that, actions contradictory to the elementary understanding of humanity—will be terminated without delay and those guilty of these activities will be properly punished.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 84, USSR: Ballerina Ludmila Vlasova, 8/79. No classification marking.