68. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1


  • Anticipated Soviet Moves in the Shcharanskiy Case

1. Although the Soviets on 15 December extended the investigative period on Shcharanskiy for up to another six months, they clearly intend to put him on trial, possibly soon, and probably on severe (treason) rather than lesser (anti-Soviet activities) charges.

Arbatov communicated to Marshall Shulman on 26 December that he had seen part of the evidence against Shcharanskiy,2 and it contains “clear-cut evidence of CIA involvement.”

—the Soviet central press (Literaturnaya Gazeta) on 28 December explicitly asserted that Shcharanskiy’s innocence or guilt, and if the latter his degree of guilt, would be decided in a Soviet court on the basis of evidence.

—last Friday Soviet authorities told Shcharanskiy’s mother and brother to find him a Soviet defense lawyer by 13 January since the investigation would be completed by then. The authorities said that charges will be brought under Article 64–A of the Soviet criminal code which includes treason and espionage.

2. CIA’s assurance last June that the Agency had nothing whatever to do with Shcharanskiy is correct. However, the Soviets have been laying publicly and privately a trail of innuendo and guilt by association. Specifically, we think the Soviets intend to tar Shcharanskiy with the charge [1 line not declassified]

3. On 5 March 1977 Sanya Lipavskiy, a self-styled Soviet dissident, publicly confessed to having been a CIA agent, and along with other prominent dissidents accused Shcharanskiy, his former room-mate, of similar involvement with American intelligence.

4. [1 paragraph (15½ lines) not declassified]

5. [1 paragraph (15 lines) not declassified]

[Page 246]

6. Shcharanskiy himself was arrested two weeks after Lipavskiy’s March 1977 public confession and has, as you know, been held incommunicado ever since. We presume that part of Lipavskiy’s deal with the KGB has involved extensive testimony against Shcharanskiy. We do not know any specifics of this testimony.

7. Valentin Turchin, another prominent Soviet dissident who has since emigrated, told Embassy Moscow in late May 1977 of another possible basis for a Soviet charge of espionage against Shcharanskiy. Some time before, Shcharanskiy had compiled a list of refuseniks whose exit visas were denied on grounds they had done classified work in Soviet institutes. The specific institutes were listed. While Shcharanskiy did not use classified information in drawing up his list, Turchin felt he could be accused of espionage because he had shown the list to Westerners as well as Soviets. Shcharanskiy, of course, had extensive contacts with Western diplomats and correspondents during his two years of active campaigning for Jewish emigration and broader human rights concerns prior to his arrest.

8. One of Shcharanskiy’s many correspondent contacts, Bob Toth of the Los Angeles Times, was interrogated extensively by the KGB in June 1977 as a “witness” in connection with his relations with Shcharanskiy. Toth admitted to his interrogators that Shcharanskiy had given him lists of refuseniks, their places of employment, reasons for their visa denials, and information about alleged violations by Soviet authorities of Soviet law and the Helsinki accords. Toth signed the protocols drawn up after each interrogation, and was permitted to leave the USSR on 16 June. Embassy Moscow concluded (in EXDIS Moscow 8811 [8677], 16 June 1977)3 that “Toth’s interrogation was clearly aimed primarily at Anatoliy Shcharanskiy . . . The clear intent . . . is to show that Shcharanskiy is guilty of passing information—written and oral—in violation of Article 64 (treason) and perhaps Article 70 (anti-Soviet slander and activities) of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic Criminal Code.”

9. A further Soviet effort to link Toth, (and presumably Shcharanskiy thus indirectly,) to American intelligence surfaced in a 31 August 1977 Literaturnaya Gazeta article, which chronicled Toth’s alleged working relationship with DIA and the Pentagon, quoting from the alleged contents of a letter Toth received in Moscow in December 1976 from [2½ lines not declassified]

—[6 lines not declassified] Then, after a long and convoluted paragraph on General Haig’s concern with the balance of NATO and Warsaw Pact forces, Litgaz again quotes from the alleged [less than 1 line [Page 247] not declassified] letter: “This theme is of great interest to General Haig, and you will be able to have a fruitful discussion about it next time you see him.”

When asked by a State Department official about his correspondence with Toth, [9½ lines not declassified]

10. In his 5 March and 6 May 1977 public confessions, covered in Izvestiya, Lipavskiy named both his original FSO contact, Levitsky, and Levitsky’s FSO replacement, Joseph Presel, as “CIA agents”, as well as Allyn Nathanson, who has since resigned from the Foreign Service. All three charges are of course false. All three officers had Embassy contact and reporting responsibilities for the Soviet dissident community. Lipavskiy, however, told Izvestiya that Levitsky had recruited him for CIA; he demonstrated the spy gear he had received during his recruitment meeting with Levitsky and from later deaddrop contacts. The Izvestiya coverage of Lipavskiy’s confession clearly implied that the Soviets also regarded Presel as one of the “Westerners” conspiring with Shcharanskiy.

11. We must anticipate from all of this that the Soviets can probably put together a circumstantially plausible case against Shcharanskiy. They would seem to have several options for trying and disposing of this case:

(a) a treason charge, conviction, and a death sentence;

(b) a treason charge, conviction, and a long prison term;

(c) a treason charge, conviction, a long prison sentence, but deportation after a face-saving interval;

(d) a charge and conviction on anti-Soviet slander, and a prison sentence;

(e) a charge and conviction on anti-Soviet slander, and a prison sentence, but with deportation after a face-saving interval;

(In any of the preceding trial alternatives, of course, the Soviets will have various options on how much to implicate US intelligence specifically in the charges.)

(f) deportation without trial.

We consider (f) quite unlikely at this point. Options (d) and (e) are possible, but growing increasingly doubtful given recent Soviet signals. Any of options (a) through (c) are more likely, with option (c) probably the best that can be hoped for.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues, Bloomfield Subject File, Box 17, Human Rights: USSR: 7/77–5/79. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. A brief memorandum from Shulman to Vance describing his communication with Arbatov, December 26, 1977, is in Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Special Adviser to the Secretary (S/MS) on Soviet Affairs Marshall Shulman—Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot 81D109, Box 6, Memoranda of Conversation—1977.
  3. In telegram 8677 from Moscow, June 16, 1977, the Embassy described the Toth case in full. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770215–0455)