06 August 1999
(Documents released by U.S. National Archives August 5) (630) By Michiel Wackers USIA Staff Writer On August 5, the National Archives in Washington, DC distributed copies of documents relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy which Russian President Boris Yeltsin had given to President Clinton at their summit Cologne in June. The approximately 80 pages of documents, in Russian and English translation, include condolences from the top Soviet officials to Jacqueline Kennedy. Many of the documents give an insight into the Soviet reaction to the assassination. They show that the Soviets were deeply concerned about how the American media would view Oswald's connections to "leftist" activities and resentful of the "slanderous anti-Soviet and anti-Cuban fabrications" they felt were concocted by groups with malicious intentions. One of the highlights in the collection is a handwritten letter from Lee Harvey Oswald requesting Soviet citizenship. In the letter he writes, "I request that I be granted citizenship in the Soviet Union because I am a communist and a worker. I have lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves." In another document, dated November 25, 1963, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan wrote down his observations of Mrs. Kennedy at a reception after the president's funeral. Mikoyan writes, "It struck us that Jacqueline Kennedy, who exchanged only two or three words with the person introduced to her, looked very calm and even appeared smiling. However, when we were presented to her... Jacqueline Kennedy said, with great emotion and nearly sobbing: 'I am sure that Chairman Krushchev and my husband could have been successful in the search for peace, and they were really striving for that. Now you must continue this endeavor and bring it to completion.' ... She said this with inspiration and deep emotion. During the entire conversation she clasped my hands." Also in the collection of documents is the text of a handwritten note from Mrs. Kennedy to Krushchev, where she writes: "I would like to thank you for sending Mr. Mikoyan as your representative to my husband's funeral. He looked so upset when he approached me, and I was very touched by this.... I know that President Johnson will continue the policy my husband believed in so deeply -- the policy of self-control and restraint -- and he will need your help." (The text was a translation back into English from the Russian translation of Mrs. Kennedy's note.) The documents show that high-ranking Soviet officials believed the assassination was a conspiracy. One statement says, "it was well know how fiercely the late president of the US was attacked for his steps aimed at resolving international disputes by reaching agreement between... the USSR and the US." The document also complains of the "absurdity and malice of theslanderous fabrications in certain organs of the American press, which are trying to establish Oswald's 'connection' with either the Soviet Union or Cuba." One letter received by the Soviet Embassy on November 9, 1963 from Oswald caused concern because it was believed to be a forgery meant to give the impression that Oswald was "being used" by the Soviet Union. "It was totally unlike any other letters the embassy had previously received from Oswald. Nor had he ever visited our embassy himself," Soviet Ambassador Anatoly wrote Moscow in a top secret telegram to Moscow on November 26, 1993. He added that Oswald's letter "was typed, wheras the other letters the embassy had received from Oswald before were handwritten." The Soviets opted to cooperate with the United States because not doing so would "cast suspicion" on the Soviet Union, and have "serious international complications," Dobrynin said in the same telegram.