USIS Washington 

06 August 1999

Documents about Kennedy Assassination Add Insight into Soviet Reaction

(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.