KGB files reportedly show it had no role in JFK death

August 05, 1992|By Will Englund | Will Englund,Moscow Bureau

MOSCOW -- The KGB kept close tabs on Lee Harvey Oswald while he was living in the Soviet Union, but his files show that the Soviet spy agency had no role in President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the head of state security in the republic of Belarus said yesterday.

The files also suggest that Oswald was a notoriously poor marksman, said Eduard Shirkovsky, the security chief.

Those files have remained classified, but Mr. Shirkovsky told a news conference in Minsk yesterday that the Parliament of Belarus could order them to be opened, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

There appears to be plenty to look through. When Oswald defected in 1959, the KGB suspected he might be a CIA spy, so he came under intense scrutiny, Mr. Shirkovsky said.

Enough information was filed away on Oswald to fill six volumes. The KGB eventually decided, among other things, that he was not working for the CIA, Mr. Shirkovsky said.

It noted that Oswald had a rifle while he was living in Minsk, the capital of what is now Belarus, but according to the files it was a hunter's rifle given to him by a sportsmen's group.

"Witnesses say he was a poor shooter, and it is difficult to imagine he could kill the president," Mr. Shirkovsky said.

Mr. Shirkovsky said the KGB conducted a detailed study of Oswald's personality while he was in Minsk -- a study that modern-day researchers would love to get their hands on.

"But facts collected at that time show that KGB bodies were not involved in the tragic events in Dallas 30 years ago," Mr. Shirkovsky said. "Security bodies did not cooperate with Oswald."

One of the many mysteries of Oswald's life is the 2 1/2 years he spent in the Soviet Union. After serving in the Navy at a secret radar installation in Japan, he renounced his U.S. citizenship in Moscow and eventually settled in Minsk. There he met the woman who was to become his wife, Marina Nicholaevna.

In 1962, he moved back to the United States. Apparently, neither he nor his wife had any trouble making the move -- an extraordinary feat in those times. President Kennedy was assassinated a year later.

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