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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 22, 1986


This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    The Politburo discusses what to do after the failure of the Reykjavik summit over Reagan's insistence on preserving the right to continue the SDI or "Star Wars" project, as well as the subsequent expulsion of Soviet diplomats from the US. In the angry, bitter meeting Gorbachev decides on the removal of 250 Soviets working in service positions at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
    "Meeting Minutes of the Politburo of the CC CPSU, Regarding the Aftermath of the Reykjavik US-Soviet summit," October 22, 1986, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, F. 89, Op. 42, D. 53, Ll. 1-14.
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Top Secret

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22 October 1986

Chair:  Com. GORBACHEV. M.S.

Present:  Comrades Aliev, G.A., Gromyko A.A., Zaikov L.N., Ligachev Y.K., Ryzhkov  N.I., Solomentsev M.S., Cherbikov V.M., Shevardnadze E.A., Dolgikh V.I., Yeltsin B. N., Talyzin N.V., Biryukov A. P., Dobrynin A.F., Zimyanin M.V., Medvedev V.A., Pazymovsky G.P., Yakovlev A.N., Kapitonov I.V.

I. Concerning the deportation of Soviet colleagues from the United States.

GORBACHEV: We need to exchange opinions concerning measures in connection with the new hostile action by the USA administration.  The development of events after Reykjavik shows that our “friends” in the USA don’t have any constructive program and are doing everything to inflame the atmosphere.  In addition to this they are acting very rudely and are behaving like bandits.

SOLOMENTSEV:  Yes, they are acting like bandits from the big road [from Russian folklore].

GORBACHEV: It’s impossible to expect any constructive actions or suggestions from the U.S. administration.   In this extremely complex situation we need to win some propaganda points,  to continue to carry out offensive explanatory work oriented towards American and all international society.  Washington politicians are afraid of this. For three days materials featuring my speech at the Reykjavik press conference and appearances on Soviet television have been delayed at customs.

YAKOVLEV: Comrade Bugaev called me and said that this material is still held up at American customs.

GORBACHEV:  We need to continue to put pressure on the American administration, explaining our positions to the population and showing that the American side is responsible for the breakdown in the agreement over the questions of reduction and liquidation of nuclear weapons.

Lately, Reagan and his staff haven’t found anything better to do than commit another hostile act — deport 55 Soviet diplomats.  Five of our officials have been declared persona non-grata,  as they explain in Washington, in response to our deportation of 5 American diplomats, and 50 are being removed under the guise of establishing equal numbers of American and Soviet diplomatic representatives.

We cannot let this hostile action go unanswered.  We should not exclude the most decisive measures.  Americans are making threats and claiming that if we take retaliatory measures, then they will take further steps towards our diplomatic personnel in the United States.  Well, I think that given the limited character of Soviet-American relations, our embassy in the USA will be able to handle its assignments.

It is essential to come up with serious proposals.  What specifically should we do?  We should remove our people who work as service personnel in the American Embassy.  Furthermore, the number of American representatives visiting the USA Embassy Moscow on business should be limited.  Annually about 500 American citizens come here via this channel.  Finally, the number of guests visiting the American ambassador in Moscow, which reaches up to 200 persons annually, should be determined on the basis of equality.  Our people rarely take business trips or visit our ambassador.  It is essential that such trips take place on an equal basis in the future.

In general, this confirmed what I said to the President of the United States in Reykjavik, that the normalization of Soviet-American relations is the business of future generations.

SHEVARDNADZE:  Our personnel in the embassy in the United States numbers 43, while the consulate in San Francisco has 25 workers.  There are 229 people in the USA Embassy in Moscow and 25 in the Leningrad Consulate.  Besides that, the Americans have over 250 of our citizens working in service positions.  We can have them removed.  This will surely hinder the activity of the American representatives.  In terms of business travel, about 500 people make business trips to the American Embassy annually.  We, in contrast, hardly ever make use of these types of trips to the USA.  Therefore, a principle of reciprocity should be imposed.  The Americans will lose more than we will.  We also do not make use of private invitations from the Ambassador.  Up to 180 people visit the American Ambassador every year.

DOBRYNIN:  And the Ambassador doesn’t even know many of these “guests” personally.

SHEVARDNADZE:  There are 14 people from Finland working in the American Embassy in Moscow as service personnel.  We have to demand their departure as well as the 8 American diplomats suspected of some illegal activity.  We also have to take adequate measures against the American military attache.  The result is that we will end up with an equal number of employees—251 in the embassies and 25 in the consulates.  

The fact that the quota for our officials was 320 people reveals the provocative character of actions of the American administration.  We have never filled our quota.

GORBACHEV:  All this should be written down with appropriate arguments and prepared in a powerful political document.

SHEVARDNADZE:  The USA administration needed a new aggressive action prior to the elections.  It should be emphasized in our document that if the Americans will take retaliatory measures in response to our actions, we will do the same.

GORBACHEV:  Do my comrades have any doubts about these proposals?


DOBRYNIN:  It would be advisable to apply these measures to the consulates in Kiev and New York.

GROMYKO:  Perhaps their opening should not be rushed in this situation.  There is no reason to do it now.

GORBACHEV:  This question should be definitively decided.  In terms of our overall stance, we have to act calmly but decisively.  This is important not only from the point of view of Soviet-American Relations, but international relations as well.  If they are talking with the Soviet Union in such a manner, one can imagine how they will act with other countries.

I had a conversation with Nikolai Ivanovich [Ryzhkov].  We should refrain from purchasing corn from the Americans for now.

GROMYKO:  Perhaps we shouldn’t announce this outright, but realize it de facto.

SOLOMENTSEV:  The statistics Comrade Shevardnadze was talking about should be included in our document.

DOBRYNIN:  The American actions toward our military attache are unprecedented.

GORBACHEV:  We should deport all American military personnel.

CHEBRIKOV:  We have another possible course of action which can be employed if necessary.  As I already reported to the Politburo, we discovered many eavesdropping devices in our offices in the USA.  This fact should be made public in order to expose American espionage, and a press conference should be called with a demonstration of American espionage’s eavesdropping devices.

GROMYKO: How many eavesdropping devices were found in their offices?

CHEBRIKOV:  One.  The numbers are in our favor—1 to 150.

GORBACHEV:  This should be emphasized.

SHEVARDNADZE:  When should our announcement be promulgated?

GORBACHEV:  As soon as it is ready.  After we look it over, it should be transmitted over the radio and television and published in the press.


GORBACHEV:  I was intending to have a press conference and show where the Americans are leading things after Reykjavik.  To expose their lies and underhanded actions.  But, now is an inappropriate time.  It would probably be better to appear on television and communicate these facts to our people, rather than at a press conference.

RYZHKOV: Correct.

GORBACHEV:  No new suggestions will appear in the speech.  Therefore it is unnecessary to circulate the text of the speech.  In the frame of the position which was formulated it should be shown that the USA administration bears full responsibility for the failure of the agreement at Reykjavik and engages in underhanded activity in order to misrepresent facts and mislead society.  It could be said that the development of events after Reykjavik shows the inability of Reagan to handle his gang.

GROMYKO:  This could be said, but in a form which does not fence off Reagan himself.

GORBACHEV:  Yes.  Reagan appears as a liar.  The appropriate formulation should be found.

Do you comrades have any other suggestions?


The resolution is accepted.

2.  Concerning activities in connection with the death of S[amora]. Machel, President of the People’s Republic of Mozambique.  

GORBACHEV:  We need to make a decision about measures in connection with the death of Machel.  Comrade Aliev will fly to Mozambique tomorrow.  The last report of our pilot was: “We have been shot down.”

ALIEV:  He [the pilot] is now in the South African Republic.

GROMYKO: All measures should be taken to visit him and set him free through the Red Cross.