12. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Soviet Message on Embassy Pentecostalists

Dobrynin is ill, and called to ask that I receive his Minister-Counselor, Sokolov, briefly this afternoon. Sokolov brought with him the text of a message from Moscow on the Pentecostalists in our Embassy there. The text is attached.2

The message begins with the standard Soviet line that we are responsible for both the problem—keeping Soviet citizens in the Embassy—and the solution—making them leave. It also reiterates previous statements that the Soviets will not “persecute” them if they leave. Then, in what Sokolov described as “the constructive part” of the message, it says that if they return to their home town in Siberia, “the question of their leaving the USSR will be considered,” with “account taken of all the circumstances involved.”

Formally, this does not go beyond what the Soviets have said before. Nevertheless, the Soviets are obviously trying to be responsive to your deep interest in the Pentecostalists’ plight. Thus, although the written message keeps their formal line intact, they may in fact be offering a kind of assurance that emigration will be permitted if the families return home first.

There are two problems with this. First, the families have had several lifetimes of broken promises, and it may take a great deal more than this sort of vague and masked assurance (if that is what it is) to convince them to leave their refuge in the Embassy and apply for emigration from home. Second, given the vagueness of the message, we should be skeptical too.

I will be reviewing the issue of how we should respond, and will want to get the views of Ambassador Art Hartman, who will be here for consultations next week. I will then be giving you my recommendations.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (02/21/83–03/02/83). Secret; Sensitive. Reagan initialed the memorandum, indicating he saw it. In an undated, unsigned covering memorandum to Reagan, Clark summarized Shultz’s message and commented: “I am skeptical that the Soviets have any intention of permitting the Pentecostalists to leave.”
  2. The text of the Soviet message is attached but not printed.