Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia
An Unauthorized History from the Kennedy Assassination 

Lee Harvey Oswald and Lev Setyaev

Copyright Peter Wronski 1991-2004

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Lev Setyaev in Moscow 1992
Lev Setyaev 
(Setyayev, Setiaev, Leo)


According to the Warren Report :

"Oswald was probably interviewed in his hotel room by a man named Lev Setyayev, who said that he was a reporter for Radio Moscow seeking statements from American tourists about their impressions of Moscow, but who was probably also acting for the KGB. Two years later, Oswald told officials at the American Embassy that he had made a few routine comments to Setyayev of no political significance. The interview with Setyayev may, however, have been the occasion for an attempt by the KGB, in accordance with regular practice, to assess Oswald or even to elicit compromising statements from him; the interview was apparently never broadcast."
[WR  Appendix XIII Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald:  SOVIET UNION]

I met Lev Setyaev in Moscow in 1991 and 1992 and videotaped interviews with him.  He was still employed at Radio Moscow as the producer and host of a daily twenty-minute news show.  He spoke relatively fluent English but appeared to have difficulty expressing ideas in the language. Of all the interviews I conducted in the Soviet Union, Setyaev's was the most contradictory and disjointed account.  

CIA and FBI References to Leo Setyaev
See: 
A. J. Weberman's Site ]

Lev Setyaev.  An employee of Radio Moscow who was married to Annette Teshlich, who was the daughter of an American defector named Lillie Mae Rahm. Annette traveled to the Soviet Union in 1935 and on March 20, 1936 became a citizen of the USSR. For a number of years Annette worked as an announcer in the American section of Radio Moscow and was known as "Moscow Molly."  The CIA reported that she had "surprisingly factual and intimate details of life at U.S. bases in the Alaskan Command, ostensibly calculated to destroy troop morale at these bases.

Annette K. Setyaeva presumably together with Leo (Lev) Setyaev was reported to be residing at Kotal'nicheskaya 1/13, Section V, Apt. 79, Moscow, USSR. The 1960 Moscow Telephone Directory lists a K.V. Khenkin, telephone B-74789 at the address Kotal'nicheskaya 1/13. No apartment number is listed.
For The Deputy Director for Plans: JAMES ANGLETON CSCI 3/779,988 Distribution Orig. & 1 Addressee 1 - C/CI, 1 - C/CI/SIG, 1- C/CI/R&A, 1- C/SR, 1- C/SR/CI 2 - C/SR/CI/R (hold cy & comeback cy) 1- SR/O/US/dl, 1 - 201,248 SR/CI Research [Deleted ] February 11, 1964.
[CIA 235, CIA-555-809]
Peter Deryabin: "It is the opinion of the undersigned that Setyayev is a KGB employee."

The CIA reported: "This agency has no additional information on the Moscow telephone number V-3-65-88 which OSWALD connected with Lev Setyayev of Radio Moscow. The 1959 Moscow City telephone directory is unavailable, and the 1960 directory does not include any numbers in the V-3-65- series, however it is a plausible Moscow telephone number." A number similar to V 3 65 93 was given by an employee of Radio Moscow to one CIA source as his office number, and to another source as his home number.
[NARA1993.06.18.18:09:23:620000]

The Setyaevs lived under the name of Annette's first husband, K.V. Khenkin.
[CIA 555-809; WR 691; D's Comments on Marina 12.0.63; FBI 105-82555-4529 Deleted doc. Re: Lillie Mae Rahm]

The Setyaevs were close to Joe Adamov.
[CIA 898-392]

CIA SEARCH ON RADIO BROADCAST

MEMORANDUM FOR: Chief, [Deleted]

SUBJECT: FBID and FDD Coverage of OSWALD Before the Assassination

1. Pursuant to your request I checked with FBID and FDD and obtained the following answers:

a. FBID [Deleted] As Standard Operating Procedure, FBID would have recorded any mention of an American defector such as OSWALD. But upon checking their records at and headquarters and in London disclosed no pertinent entries.

b. FDD [Deleted] As a standard operating procedure FDD would not have noted the name of an American defector. They concentrate their efforts toward recording Soviet personalities. A check of the FDD records disclosed no pertinent entries.

2. A recheck of all actual materials i.e. the Soviet radio and press releases for that period could be undertaken, but the task would be Herculean and a change in the statements in a and b above rather doubtful. A review of the results of monitoring Soviet foreign broadcasts at the time when an interview with LEE HARVEY OSWALD had supposedly been taped was conducted with negative results. Therefore, it is assumed that such a tape, if broadcast at all, was aired over a local USSR facility for internal consumption.

[CIA 601-816]

Setyaev vehemently denied that he was an informant for the KGB and complained that since being mentioned in the Warren Report as such, Soviet authorities have denied him permission to travel abroad. When I asked Setyaev what his Radio Moscow job was in 1959, he said he had worked in the "American Section" interviewing US tourists and guests such as visiting scientists, performing artists and businessmen. He would ask them about their general impressions of Moscow and about their "contacts" with Soviet citizens. Setyaev had even interviewed Pierre Salinger, JFK's press secretary on his visit to Moscow.
   Several times Setyaev stated that his questions involved asking tourists what kind of "contacts" they had with Soviets--including this little gem:  "I asked them...about if they met...uh...Soviet officials and if they...uh...had contacts with scientific people..."
    At this point I could not stop myself from challenging his assertion that he had no contact with the KGB, for even Intourist waiters had such contact routinely.   I even gave Setyaev an easy way out, reminding him that it was common practice for the KGB to systematically collect information from citizens who had extended contacts with foreigners. Setyaev insisted that in his case, "they never did.  I don't know why, but they never did."  I disbelieved him.

During my two meetings with Setyaev, he never told me that in 1959 both his wife and his mother-in-law were US citizens who defected to the USSR.  I  learned about that only through the recent JFK document releases.  [See sidebars at right and below .]

Lev Setyaev told me he was twenty-eight in 1959 and that he cruised the Intourist hotels in the center of Moscow recording interviews with American guests.  On a date he cannot remember he was at the Metropole Hotel to interview an American businessman. A clerk from the Metropole alerted him to the fact that another American had arrived at the hotel:  Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald's room turned out to be exactly next door to the American he was to interview. (Setyaev does not remember who the American was.)

Setyaev stated that he knocked on Oswald's door and introduced himself.  Oswald invited him in and the first thing he said, according to Setyaev, was "I am a communist."  Setyaev felt this was a strange thing for the young American to say upon first meeting somebody. 
    Setyaev reiterated to me, that his Radio Moscow broadcast was intended to be a light tourist chatter type of show and that he specifically avoided political questions. He stated that Oswald had little to say about Moscow's tourist sites as he had apparently not seen much.  He only visited some "friendship society or language institute," said Setyaev.  (In his second interview with me, about ten months later, Setyaev said something different:  that Oswald's comments were "too political" to be of use for his show.)  Setyaev insisted that when he returned to the radio station and listened to the tapes, he immediately bulk-erased them, deciding they were worthless for his broadcast.

In 1962, Oswald wrote about the interview:  "I expressed delight in all the interesting places.  I mentioned in this respect the University, museum of art, Red Square, the Kremlin.  I remember I closed this two minute recording by saying I hoped our peoples would live in peace and friendship."  [CE 100]

Setyaev maintained, that while he could not place the exact date of his meeting with Oswald, it took place in the Metropole Hotel because he "never" had been in the Hotel Berlin. (This is strange as the Berlin had many tourists visiting and was one of the Intourist hotels in the center that Setyaev claimed he worked for interviews.  The Berlin (now known as the Savoy) was only a few minutes walk away from the Metropole.)
    With Setyaev insisting that the interview took place at the Metropole, we are led to conclude that it had to have occurred after October 28; after Oswald's request for citizenship; after the KGB's recommendation that Oswald be sent on his way; and after his "suicide attempt."  Therefore, one would also conclude, that Setyaev could not have been instrumental in the KGB's initial evaluation of Oswald's request for asylum.
    Setyaev went on to accurately describe to me the spectacular view from Oswald's  second floor room at the Metropole:  the panorama of Sverdlov Square, the Hotel Moscva, and the Bolshoi Theater.  This detailed memory did not strike me at the time as suspicious--I too had visited that room and was impressed by the vista outside the windows. 
    With a State Department cable [CE 935] stating that Oswald "recalled that he had been interviewed briefly in his room at the Metropole Hotel in Moscow on the third day after his arrival" I assumed that Oswald was perhaps referring to his arrival at the hotel , not in the USSR.  I linked what I came to believe was the source of the Warren Report's error to that statement.  I was convinced that Setyaev's interview took place at the Metropole Hotel, and therefore after Oswald was released from the Botkinskaya Hospital.  I wrote so in The Third Decade in May 1992.  Now, I can no longer be sure, for Setyaev's previous links to American defections, throws an entirely different light on his statements to me in 1992.  Three things seriously trouble me about Setyaev's statements:  

Firstly, he insists that Oswald made no mention to him of the fact that he was requesting Soviet citizenship when they first met.  This is strange because it was common knowledge among staff back at Hotel Berlin, within Intourist, and probably at the Metropole.  With the two hotels so close to each other, with the staff belonging to the same organization, perhaps even eating in the same cafeteria, it would be highly unlikely that news of the suicidal defecting American guest did not reach the Metropole.  Moreover, Oswald did not disguise his intentions of defecting.  He seemed to tell everybody, in what I believe, was a hope that they would pass the information on to the proper authorities.

Secondly,  Setyaev had  further meetings with Oswald:  "two or three" more! 

Thirdly, during those meeting, Setyaev says that Oswald then asked him to help with his application to the Supreme Soviet for citizenship.  On first hearing, that did not make sense because Oswald had already sent his request out weeks earlier, upon his arrival, with the help of Rimma Shirakova.  She was instructed after the "suicide" episode to continue assisting Oswald.  My only explanation was perhaps Oswald was asking help from Setyaev with some kind of supplementary process.  But there is another...

Lev SetyaevIf the recently released CIA documents are correct (CIA HT/LINGUAL  (June 1960) intercept on Setyaev indicated "he was involved in the translation and dissemination of documents which foreigners needed to become Soviet citizens." ) [John Newman p. 198 ] then Oswald had chosen precisely the right person to ask for that kind of help. Setyaev, however, insists that he refused to help Oswald!  Perhaps so.  Why?      

Lev SetyaevI asked Setyaev about his additional contacts with Oswald.   Setyaev replied that when he first met Lee, as he was leaving, Oswald asked him to visit again because he needed his "help" but did not say what kind of help.  Setyaev said that he might have given Oswald his work phone number at that point.

Setyaev said he had a negative first impression of Oswald:  "I would say, yes, he was strange.  He looked strange.  He produced the impression of a person who was thinking some thought deep in his mind.  He was quiet, he did not talk very much.  When I asked him something he usually said yes or no--he did not explain in many words . . .he was self concerned, always thinking about something... He was displeased with life in general.  He was such type of a man.  There are always persons who are displeased with something whether it's lack of money or poor health, or troubles in the family, with the wife, with children and so on.  He was such a type of a man who is dissatisfied with life...  I did not like him."

Who called whom first, I asked.  Despite the fact that Setyaev did not like Oswald, he says he it was he who phoned Lee to see "how he felt, what was he doing, could I help him.  That's all."

How long after the first meeting?  About ten days...two weeks at the most. 

Lev SetyaevWhy did you call?  "Simply to speak with him. To maybe help him.  He was lonely."

The first time you met Oswald for what purpose did you think he was in Moscow? Setyaev replied, that he thought Lee was a tourist.  Strangely, Setyaev expressed it as Oswald "had a tourist visa."  Setyaev seemed to ponder the question, and several times chose to say "he had a tourist visa" rather than simply say, "Oswald was a tourist."   It made me feel that Setyaev, in forming his statements to me, was reaching on his memory of a dossier, as opposed to his own first-hand impressions.  Likewise, Setyaev said that Oswald told him he went to an "electronics school."  No other Russian witness recalls Oswald saying that, but in a 1999 declassified Soviet document, there is a notation that Oswald "was a student in his final year at an electrical trade school."  Was Setyaev's recollection that Oswald told him he went to an "electronics school" a 'dossier-memory' too?  Was Setyaev privy to Oswald's KGB files when he was visiting Oswald?

If you thought Oswald was a tourist, then why did you expect to find him in his hotel room ten days later?  Was that not a rather long time for an average tourist to be in Moscow?  "I thought maybe I could help him," Setyaev replied, skirting the question and contradicting his own previous statement that he refused to help Oswald.

But you didn't like him; why help him?   
"As a person,  no...but if  I could help him, why not?  You often don't like a certain person but if he needs help you help him."   (If he did not like him "as a person", than as what? As a "subject" or "objective" as the Soviets say--a target?)

I asked for more details on Oswald's request for help.  Setyaev stated that at their second meeting, Oswald asked him to help draft a letter to the Supreme Soviet and take it there.  Setyaev says he refused and only gave Oswald the address for the Presidium and told him to take it himself.  "It was only a five minute walk from the hotel." 

 Setyaev says that this was not the first time he had been asked by an American to assist in a defection--apparently he was asked previously by a "retired engineer" to help him draft a request for Soviet citizenship.  Setyaev says he refused on that occasion as well. "I said, no, it's up to you.  I'm a Radio Moscow correspondent.  I have nothing to do with such things." Setyaev claimed he did not remember the name of the engineer and it was "maybe a year before."

I started to ask Setyaev if he had ever come across the name "Webster"...  Setyaev burst out: "No, no, it wasn't Webster!"  leaving me the impression he was well aware of Webster. [Webster was an American who defected roughly in the same time period that Oswald did. ] The "retired engineer" he was talking about, Setyaev expanded, was about seventy years old. After he had refused to assist him, the American returned home without seeking Soviet citizenship, Setyaev claimed. 

During these meeting, which presumably took place in November, and perhaps even December, what was Oswald doing?  "He was waiting for an answer... He sent an application to the Supreme Soviet Presidium for residence here, to stay here and he was waiting for that.  And he was waiting for a long time.  I don't remember how long he stayed here but it was about two or three weeks...I think...as I imagine...he stayed in the hotel in order to pick up the telephone if someone rang him up."

Did you speak with Oswald in Russian or English.  It was always English.  Setyaev never heard Oswald speak to anyone else in any language.  "He was always alone... He didn't want to see anybody.  He was strange in this respect you know.  He was lonely.  He was self-concerned.  He was thinking about something."

Oswalds Diary"Nov. 2.  Fifteen days of utter loneliness. I refuse all reporters, phone calls. I remain in my room; I am racked with dysentery. 
Nov. 17 - Dec. 30.   I have bought myself two self-teaching Russian Language books. I force myself to study 8 hours a day.  I sit in my room and read and memorize words. All meals I take in my room. Rimma arranged that.  It is very cold on the streets so I rarely go outside at all for this month and a half.  I see no one, speak to no one except every now and then Rimma, who calls the ministry about me."

On their second or third meeting, Setyaev and Oswald went to see a movie playing in the Hotel Metropole.  The film was The Ballad of a Soldier, a Soviet war movie. Oswald said after the movie, "Now I know what war is like."  Otherwise they would always meet in his room.

Lev Setyaev in  Oswald and the CIA
by John Newman

"It appears that Setyaev was known to both the CIA and the FBI. A sensitive June 24, 1960 LINGUAL intercept, "60F24," was addressed to Leo Setyaev by Charles John Pagenhardt . . ." [p. 193]

"The June 1960 CIA HT/LINGUAL intercept on Setyaev indicated he was involved in the translation and dissemination of documents which foreigners needed to becombe Soviet citizens." [p. 198]   

Source: CIA LINGUAL item 60F240; NARA, JFK Files, CIA Document Number 1572-1115-L

(HT/LINGUAL was the CIA's letter-opening operation which targetted on a yearly average 300 individuals. Both Oswald and Setyaev apparently were on this small select list of targets.)

Newman also quotes an FBI report of an interview with Marina Oswald September 8, 1964,
Dallas 100-10461
[CD 1546]

"Marina [was] exhibited the following photographs which were obtained from Lellie May Rahm at Ketchikan, Alaska, on August 4, 1964. Rahn is the mother of Anita May Setyaeva. These photographs were described as follows:

1.   Wedding photo of Marina (last name unknown.) At far left is head of Marina's mother, Anita May Setyaeva (Setyaev), nee Zuggef and her son, Kostia Henkin; unknown woman, Marina (last name unknown) and Vashi (last name unknown) who is Marina's husband, unknown man, woman, mand and woman.
2.   Head photo of Anita May Setyaeva.
3.   Full-length photo of Anita May Setyaeva in Moscow.
4. Full-length photo of Anita May Setyaeva at Moscow University.
5.   Photo of Moscow Radio personnel, taken December 27, 1957, left to right--Lucy Pravdina, Anita May Setyaeva, Sergei Rudin, Joe Adarov [sic] and sitting, Nikolai Sergeyev.
6.   Photo of Moscow Radio personnel, taken September 9, 1960, left to right--Joe Adakov [sic], Anita May Seyaeva, Annabella Ducar, Sergei Rudin.
7.   Photo of Moscow Radio personnel--Sergei Rudin, Anita May Setyaeva; standing--Lucy Pravdina, Hoe Adamov [sic], Nikolai Sergeyev.
8.   Photo of Moscow Radio personnel--Sergei Rudin, Anita May Setyaeva, Joe Adamov, Lucy Pravdina, Nikolai Sergeyev.
9.  (Frist name unknown) Henkin, Anita May Renkina, now Setyaeva (Setyaev) and Kostia (Bunny) Henkin, taken June 1, 1957.
10.  Photo of Moscow Radio personnel, left to right--Sergei Rudin, Lucy PRavdina, Joe Adamov, Anita May Setyaeva, Nikolai Sergeyev, taken December 28, 1958."

Marina Oswald could identify none of the individuals...


According to FBI Dallas, Report of Wallace Heitman and Hayden Griffin, September 8, 1964, Dallas 100-10461;  [WC CD 1546]   Marina Oswald stated to the FBI agents that:

     "At the time of Marina's first visit to Moscow with Oswald, he referred to his address book to find the name of an individual. It was Oswald's intention to call this person on the telephone. He showed the name to Marina. This name she had identified from a photograph of one page of Oswald's address book which contains the name written in the Latin alphabet, "Leo Setyaev."

     "Marina said Oswald tried to contact this person, but had been unsuccessful. Marina asked Oswald who this individual Leo Setyaev was. Oswald replied he was a man who had helped him make some money after his arrival in Moscow by assisting him in a broadcast for Radio Moscow. Marina asked Oswald what he had said, and he told her he had criticized the United States and said Russia was a better place in which to live. Marina asked him why he said this, and Oswald replied it was necessary to make this propaganda because at the time he had wanted to live in Russia.

     "She advised further Setyaev had taken a photograph of Oswald during his visit to the latter at the Hotel Metropole. This photograph is one of the photographs of Oswald presently in possession of investigators of the assassination as Marina recalls seeing it. It is the photograph of Oswald standing in a room, in which he wears a black suit, a white shirt, and a tie. Marina said Oswald was quite worried in this photograph because she noted that a vein was standing out very noticeably on the right side of his face."

I asked Setyaev if he had taken any photographs of Oswald.  "No.  Lee Harvey Oswald?  No, it couldn't be because I didn't have a camera at that time...no,no,no,no it's absolutely wrong.  I didn't have any camera at that time and I even didn't know how to take photos.  I learned it later on."  Were you accompanied by a photographer? No, no, no, we were alone.  We were two in the room." 

Lee Harvey Oswald wrote some time after May of 1962:

"When I first came to Russia in the winter of 1959 my funds were limited, so after a certain time, after the Russians had assured themselves that I was really the naive American who believed in communism, they arranged for me to receive a certain amount of money every month.  OK--it came technically through the Red Cross as financial help to a [Russian political immigrant?] but it was arranged by the MVD.  I told myself it was simply because I was broke and everybody knew it.  I accepted the money because I was hungry and there was several inches of snow on the ground in Moscow at that time.  But what it really was, was payment for my denunciation of the US in Moscow in   Oct    November 1956 [sic] and a clear promise that for as long as I lived in the USSR, life would be very good.  I didn't realize all this, of course, for almost two years....  I have never mentioned the fact of these monthly payments to anyone.  I do so in order to state that I shall never sell myself intentionaly, or unintentionly to anyone again."  [CE 25]

In [CE 100] Oswald writes:  "I made a recording for Radio Moscow which was broadcast the following Sunday."  
   

If the Warren Report is correct, then the date of the broadcast would have been October 25.  Otherwise, it would have been November 2 or 9, or later.  There is no evidence that the broadcast took place however.

 

I asked Setyaev whether he saw Lee after Oswald heard that he is being sent to Minsk.  Setyaev said that he only spoke with him on the telephone, and gave him his home address so that he could write him. (And that in the end, Oswald never did write.) At first Setyaev was very specific that he never saw Oswald in that later period.  The problem was that Setyaev's address was written, in what Setyaev upon seeing, agreed was his own handwriting.  Setyaev therefore must have met with Oswald at least once after Oswald knew he was to reside in Minsk.  (Setyaev also insisted, that he did not black-out the writing below his address.)
    What was interesting in Setyaev's conduct during the interview when he was confronted by his own handwritten address was that rather than say he made a mistake, Setyaev suddenly changed his account in mid-stream, as if he had never denied meeting Oswald in the first place.  He attempted to create the impression that perhaps we misunderstood him, or that he simply had not arrived to that part of the story yet.  This is a common defensive position, track-jumping, taken by those suddenly caught stating an untruth and having no where to run with their mistatement.
     One would think that Setyaev as a KGB operative would be better skilled at disassembly, but there is no evidence that Setyaev was a full-time trained KGB officer.  With his wife and mother-in-law being American  defectors and his position as a journalist, he was probably a trusted collaborator of the KGB but not necessarily a staff officer.  Nor is it necessarily conclusive that his suspected role as somebody who assisted US defectors at the end of their journey to the USSR was an operational function of the KGB.  It certainly would have been conducted confidentially with the close collaboration of the KGB, but could have been the function of a department of the Soviet government genuinely concerned with effectively integrating the defectors into their new life in Russia. 

 

SPECULATIONS & CONCLUSIONS:

1.   WAS I A TARGET OF KGB DISINFORMATION IN 1992? 

It is entirely possible that Lev Setyaev, acting officially on behalf of the Soviet Union, assisted Oswald in his application for Soviet citizenship in 1959. The only new evidence we have since 1963 that Oswald was not contacted by Setyaev in the first three days of his arrival, is my own 1991-1992 interviews with Setyaev. Interestingly enough, to my knowledge, Setyaev has refused to give interviews to anybody else since.

Setyaev and Peter Wronski

For reasons of Russian national security--for who knows who else Setyaev might have assisted in the past and where they are today--the KGB may very well wish to cover up Setyaev's role. Furthermore, the KGB has catagorically denied any relationship or contact, however innocent, with Oswald other than surveillance and evaluation of him as a defector.  This would be more the reason to disinform me of Setyaev's, and therefore the KGB's more active role in assisting Oswald's defection at the end, even if it was against the recomendations of the KGB.  (The KGB originally recommended that Oswald be expelled, but were overruled by ministerial officials. (At least according to documents released from the Soviet archives. One can, of course, question the credibility of those sources as well, but then one might as well just forget the whole thing for then nothing is knowable, nothing can ever be trusted, determined or resolved: game over.) )

Setyaev's recollections of the view from the Metropole, upon which I finally chose to base my belief in his account, could have easily been scripted for my consumption.  Indeed, when speaking, Setyaev appeared entirely unsure of the chain-of-events, stumbling about his recollections, without giving me much to grasp on--except for one thing--his memory that the interview took place at the Metropole Hotel.  Setyaev's interview is full of  remarks like "it was maybe ten days later; maybe two weeks at the most; two or three times; how can anybody remember thirty years back; if the Warren Report says it was on that date then it probably must have been; it very well could have been..."  Everything was vague and nebulas with only one precise underlying recollection:  it was the Metropole Hotel.  It was left up to me to conclude 'all on my own' that the contact took place after Oswald's release from the hospital.  Setyaev himself, offered no opinion on the date, thus taking on the appearence of an impartial witness.  In the process of fitting his disjointed recollections, and Oswald's statements that the meeting was at the Metropole, I would also conclude, therefore, that Setyaev could not have been instrumental in Oswald's initial evaluation by the KGB. 

My presence in Moscow and my intentions were well known to the KGB in 1991, as I had filed a goofy Soviet version of a Freedom of Information request to them in January of 1991 through my Soviet broadcast partners. The president of the television company I was working with, was the son of a senior KGB officer.  I began the interviews in June:  there was lots of time to prepare Seteyaev for me.   Setyaev could also been disinforming me on his own initiative, without any KGB operational input. 

On camera and off, Setyaev ventured all sorts of opinions as to the nature of defectors, without once revealing to me that he had personal knowledge of such persons in the form of his wife and mother-in-law. ("It never ends in good things," he said of defections.)  I was told by others that there was a rumor that Setyaev had once been married to an American journalist in the 1950's--a woman much older than him, but that it ended sadly and that it was not something you brought up with him.  As usual with television interviews, there were time constraints. Setyaev was available only for an hour before he had to go back to his show.  I had no time to go on a fishing expedition about the rumor of an American wife -- although I should have risked  it.  Now we will never know what his response would have been back then and in what direction it might have led me.  

If indeed Setyaev innocently called on Oswald only to interview him, and he was asked by Oswald to help with his defection, then the fact that both Setyaev's wife and mother-in-law were American defectors at that time, is one hell of a coincidence!  Yet another in an ocean of coincidence that seem to engulf the JFK assassination.  (Which leads me back to the answer I always give when asked, who do I think assassinated JFK.  "Coincidence killed him," I reply.)   

 

2.   U.S. INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONAL INTEREST IN LEE HARVEY OSWALD?

Everyone is looking for a "mission" for Oswald in the USSR on the assumption that he was an intelligence agent or was at least being manipulated or run by US intelligence.  One of the major goals of my journey to Russia was to see if there were any clues to that answer over there.  I found none to satisfy me. 

a.)  It is highly unlikely Lee Harvey Oswald was an intelligence agentwith an assigned mission in the USSR

Firstly, Lee Harvey Oswald was only nineteen years old upon his arrival in Moscow. The US did not send teenagers on a clandestine missions into the heart of the Soviet Union--especially those with a record of behaviour as unpredictable as Oswald's.  To those critics who suggest that his behavior, such as his barrack room russophilia, was part of a carefully curated intelligence legend, I respond then he must have therefore been selected for the service at an even younger age than nineteen -- as young as seventeen -- even fifteen and sixteen if we account for his adolescent Marxism prior to enlistment.   
    If Oswald was assigned on a mission, especially one without the protection of diplomatic cover, he would have been intensively trained and conditioned before he would have been sent across the Iron Curtain.  During the desperate days of World War II, for example, both Allied and Nazi agents received at minimum two months of intensive solid non-stop drop-dead training in remote and restricted facilities before they were dispatched into enemy territory disguised as defectors, tourists (yes folks, there was a tourist industry in occupied Europe during World War 2, at least prior to June 1944 and even after) or finally, dropped by parachute.   Nothing in Oswald's education, personality, skills, or record qualified him for such training, nor does there appear any significant gaps in Oswald's military records where such intensive training could have taken place. (Except perhaps, I will grant, his time in the Marine brig, of which there seem to be no witnesses and no accounts.)      Nor am I aware of any non-Slavic US citizen intelligence operatives, of any age, being dispatched behind the Iron Curtain without the protection of diplomatic cover.  Some assassination historians, like John Newman, speculate that Oswald might have been used as a dangle to asceratian the Soviet's knowledge and interest in intelligence on the U-2.  Such a dangle could have easily and safely been performed in the US or any neutral territory with a Soviet embassy, without the complications and risks involved in sending an agent out of reach behind the iron curtain.

b.)  It is possible Lee Harvey Oswald was "run" or manipulated by US intelligence without his knowledge, or tracked as he went about on his own agenda. 

Such a proposal does fold neatly into later allegations that Oswald was deliberately set-up as a patsy for the assassination of President Kennedy by individuals with current or former intelligence community connections.   It is entirely possible, that back in 1959,  just by being himself , Oswald could have been of use in 'flushing' out a Soviet operative instrumental in the defection of US citizens to the USSR, such as Setyaev is alleged to be .  Defections were a high priority concern at that time, because several American defectors during Oswald's era were US military personnel--some from military intelligence branches stationed in Germany.
    In his book, Oswald and the CIA, John Newman has convincingly shown that Oswald's CIA "201" file is somehow related to the issue of American defectors to the USSR.  What is unknown and unclear is whether Oswald's file was created by virtue of his being a defector himself, or whether there is a more complex and deeper relationship.

How US intelligence would have exploited Oswald's contact with Setyaev is a matter of speculation as well.  It could have been strictly an operation to identify Setyaev and his methodology.  It would however, have meant that the CIA had to maintain some sort of control over or communication with Oswald.  I did uncover evidence that Oswald was in communication with somebody in the USA at a time it is claimed that nobody knew his location.  [ see:  future link here ]   Certainly in this scenario, Setyaev's arrival at Oswald door like room service, was entirely predictable if Setyaev was suspected as an undercover consultant for incoming defectors.  Furthermore, Setyaev's claim to have refused to assist Oswald can make sense in the context of the negative view that the KGB had of Oswald. Setyeaev could have been instructed to maintain contact but not to take any bait such as a request for help with the defection.

If I was in correct in my 1992 conclusions that Oswald met with Setyaev in the Metropole Hotel in late October or early November, then Oswald's apparently repeated requests to Setyaev for assistance with his claim for Soviet citizenship, despite the fact that Oswald already had the process well underway by then with Rimma Shirakova's help, are evidence of some sort of coached provocation by Oswald against Setyaev. 

If I am in error in my conclusion, and the Warren Report is correct in their's that Oswald met Setyaev in the first few days of his arrival in the USSR, than there is much more to learn about the nature of Setyaev's and the KGB's conduct towards Oswald.  If Setyaev's contacts with Oswald began upon his arrival and continued until his departure to Minsk, then the scope of their relationship is much more complex and extensive than what the Warren Commission ventured in their conclusions.