17.9 Rigerman, US Citizenship and the Soviet Police

No 17 : 31 December 1970

On 23 July 1970 Leonid Rigerman (b. 1940), visited the US embassy in Moscow. He was born in the USA into an American family, which gives him and his mother Esther Rigerman grounds for taking American citizenship. On 8 September, after completing the documents necessary for the registration of their American citizenship and telephoning the consul to arrange a visit, L. Rigerman and his mother set off for the embassy. At the entrance they were stopped by three policemen and sent to police station no. 11. There Leonid was searched and all the things he had with him confiscated: documents, money and his watch. Then First-Lieutenant Nikolai Andreyevich Balakirev conducted a conversation with him. Balakirev refused to explain why he had been apprehended, for the most part discussing with him the normalisation of the situation in the Middle East and the problem of emigration. Rigerman and his mother were released, having been told to collect their things and documents the following day.

On 14 September the Rigermans handed in their applications at the embassy.

On 9 November, again bound for the embassy, L. Rigerman was stopped about a hundred yards from the entrance by three policemen, who demanded his documents. The American consul came up to them, greeted Rigerman and started to explain to the policemen that Rigerman was coming to the embassy at his invitation. A car then drove up, and Rigerman was dragged into it and taken to police station no. 11. There he was again searched and subjected to a “chat”, this time with Nikolai Ivanovich Sokolov, an official of the KGB. When Rigerman was released he telephoned the consul and at the entrance to the embassy he was once more seized, the consul trying to explain to the policemen that Rigerman had a claim to American citizenship, and that under Article 12 of the Consular Convention he had the right to enter the embassy.

Rigerman was taken to police station no. 11, held there until 2 pm the following day, and then a document was drawn up about his infringement of the 15 February 1962 Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet “On liability for maliciously disobeying the lawful demands of the police or the people’s vigilantes”. On 12 November the Krasnaya Presnya district court (under Judge Gorovets) sentenced L. Rigerman to seven days’ imprisonment.

On 19 December it was announced at a press-conference in the White House that the government of the USA regarded Leonid Rigerman and Esther Rigerman as American citizens. They had been officially informed of this by the embassy of the USA.

On 29 December the Rigermans submitted a request to OVIR for permission to leave for the USA.