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#9 - JRL 7265
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003
From: Yale Richmond <yalerich@erols.com>
Subject: Yevtushenko at the White House

For scholars and others interested in the Cold War, there is more to the story of Yevgeny Yevtushenko's White House visit (JRL 7258).

I arrived at my office at the State Department one morning during the detente years and found on my desk a message from the National Security Council (NSC) informing us that Yevtushenko would be visiting the White House that day at noon, and requesting the Department to provide a briefing memo by 11 AM. State had had no prior notification of the planned visit, and I have to assume it was arranged by Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin directly with the NSC's Henry Kissinger.

Such NSC requests for briefing memos on White House visitors were not unusual, even on such short notice. Drafting the memo was the easy part; getting the necessary clearances before sending it usually took much longer. A few months earlier the NSC had requested a briefing memorandum on the balalaika, in preparation for a White House visit by a group of instrumentalists from the Osipov Balalaika Orchestra which was in Washington for a performance at the Kennedy Center. I was not an authority on balalaikas and had to spend some time in the State Department Library learning about balalaikas before that memorandum could be sent to the NSC in time for its 11 AM deadline.

But the memorandum on Yevtushenko was different because the Department was well aware of the controversy surrounding him, and it recommended that he not be received by the President. That recommendation, however, was not heeded by the NSC. Yevtushenko "dropped by" the president's office, saw Richard Nixon, and got his souvenier cuff links.

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