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U.S. Warns Americans Against Going to Leningrad Because of ‘unlawful Detentions’ of U.S. Tourists

August 7, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State Department issued an advisory today waming Americans against going to Leningrad because of the “unlawful detentions” of U.S. tourists and the “arbitrary” search of their luggage in the Soviet city.

While Jewish organizations concerned with Soviet Jewry have apparently expected the move, they had no immediate reaction on how this would affect their efforts to keep in contact with Jewish refuseniks in Leningrad.

Today’s advisory came after an American marine guard and the U.S. Consulate in Leningrad were beaten by Soviet uniformed and plainclothes police last week outside the Consulate. There was no mention of this in the advisory.

Instead, the advisory, read by State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg, said that there has been a “notable increase in the number of incidents of harassment involving Americans in the Soviet Union. The majority of serious incidents has occurred in the Leningrad area.”

The advisory noted that there has been “unlawful detention of tourists by the Soviet security organs following innocent contacts with Soviet citizens” and that tourists have been denied the right to contact the U.S. Consulate despite the U.S.-Soviet Consular Convention which gives them this right.

The advisory also said “American tourists have been also subject to arbitrary and in many cases unjustifiably embarrassing searches of their personal effects on arriving or departing from Leningrad International Airport. The Soviet authorities have not responded in a satisfactory manner to our urgent request that they act immediately to correct this situation.”


Romberg said he did not know if any of the recent harassment incidents involved anti-Semitism. He would not provide a list of the recent harassment cases, but did note that on July 28 a U.S. professor with the International Research and Exchange Boards was held for two hours by the Soviet police after he was picked up on his way to see a Soviet colleague who is an authority on 18th century literature.

Romberg said the American was told that a new Soviet law adopted July 1 did not require notifying the Consulate of a foreigner who has been arrested unless he was to be deported. “This is a dangerous attitude forthe Leningrad authorities to take and one which is clearly in gross violation of the U.S.-USSR Consular Convention,” Romberg said.

The Soviets have intensified their efforts in recent months to curtail contact between Soviet Jews and activists and tourists. One example was the detainment in Leningrad of former Israeli President Ephraim Katzir on July 1 while he and his wife were on their way to meet with Jews in that city.

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