Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia
KGB IN MINSK January 1960.
Shortly before Oswald was to leave Moscow for Belorussia in January 1960,
the KGB chief of counterintelligence in Minsk, received a small dossier on
Oswald from Moscow Central. The file contained mostly reports by Intourist
informants and officials, a summary of Oswald's request for asylum and official
disposition thereof, and a report on Oswald's "suicide attempt." No
details were furnished on Oswald's military history, family, past life
in the US, etc. Oswald was characterized in the file as a disgruntled
former US Marine private claiming to be a Marxist and seeking Soviet
In Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery Norman Mailer interviewed that Minsk KGB officer, giving him the pseudonym of "Igor Ivanovich Guzmin." I believe that his actual name is GOLUBTSOV. According to Mailer, he was born in 1922 and was assigned by Moscow Central to Minsk KGB counterintelligence in 1946. He retired in 1977 as head of Belorussian Republic counterintelligence. His primary assignment from 1946 to 1953 was to hunt down former collaborators with the Nazi occupation forces, although that probably included and extended to anybody Stalin wanted purged in the postwar era. Golubtsov also would be concerned with capturing agents infiltrated by parachute or land into the Minsk area by US and British intelligence services: four such US agents were captured in 1951 alone. (These would have been former Soviet citizens working for US intelligence.) Oswald was identified as a potential threat to the USSR and not as a possible source for intelligence. There were express orders that Oswald was not to be formally debriefed. The Oswald case was only one of many for which Golobutsov was responsible in Minsk According to Golubtsov, the KGB was considering the following factors and scenarios in their analysis of Oswald's threat potential:
Golubtsov understood his mission as ensuring that Lee Oswald was not a threat to the USSR, without Oswald having a bad time; just in case he really was a genuine immigrant to the USSR and a potentially valuable propaganda scoop.
Alexander Fedorovich Kostikov would remain as the case officer until Oswald's departure home, and would then be further involved in the KGB's actions in Minsk after the assassination. Alexander Fedorovich Kostikov personally ran and debriefed, all or some of the Russian informants close to Lee Harvey Oswald.
Alexander Kostikov was a local Belorussian born in the Mogilov area, according to Mailer's account. During the war Kostikov had supervised the interrogation of German prisoners. After the war he revealed a talent in recognizing spies among former Soviet citizens who returned to the USSR from the West. Although he was not fluent, he spoke and understood a little English. He was a seasoned officer who resided with his family, as it was the custom, in comfortable apartment blocks reserved for KGB command officers. His commander was his neighbor in the same building. On the Oswald case, Alexander Kostikov was three ranks away from reporting to the top in Moscow.
Saturday, January 9, 1960: Day 2.
According to KGB surveillance reports transcribed in Mailer's volume, Oswald exited the Hotel for forty-five minutes, from 11:40 AM until 12:25PM. During that period he visited a few stores in the neighbourhood--a butcher, a grocery, and a bookstore. He also returned to the train station and looked at a photo display and stepped into a restaurant for a moment. He apparently "paid attention to people entering after him." After returning to his hotel, he had lunch in the dining room and afterwards went up to his room. At 4:40 PM he came down to the hotel restaurant and returned to his room forty-five minutes later. The KGB suspended the surveillance at 11:00 PM.
Sunday, January 10, 1960: Day 3.
Oswald exited his hotel for 25 minutes to purchase an electric plug. Except for taking meals alone in the hotel restaurant, he did not exit again. Surveillance is suspended at midnight.
In his first three days in Minsk, Oswald only steps out into the streets for a total of 75 minutes. Oswald writes in his Historic Diary: "January 10, The day to myself. I walk through the city. Very nice." Very much in the same way as he remained closed up in his hotel complex in Moscow, Oswald makes only brief forays into Minsk, preferring to remain in his room or the hotel restaurant below.
Monday, January 11, 1960: Day 4.
Oswald writes in his Historic Diary:
I visit Minsk Radio Factory where I shall work. There, I meet Argentinian immigrant Alexander Ziger, born a Polish Jew, immigrated to Argentina 1938, and back to Polish homeland (now a part of Belorussia) in 1955. Speaks English with an American accent. He worked for an American company in Argentina. He is head of the department, a qualified engineer in late 40's, mild-mannered, likable. He seems to want to tell me something.
KGB surveillance photo of Lee Harvey Oswald and KGB confidential informant Pavel Golovachev taken on Victory Square near Oswald's apartment.
KGB HQ Minsk
Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia