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20 Jun 2013

True story of Kennedy's assassin

Lee Harvey Oswald in Minsk

Lee Harvey OswaldLee Harvey Oswald once said about Minsk: "There was no place to spend money, no nightclubs and bowling, no entertainment". Interesting facts about the official Kennedy's assassin life in the Belarusian capital. How Lee Harvey Oswald lived, where he worked and with whom he communicated while he lived in Minsk -- that's the story below as told by one Belarusian blogger

In October 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald, the only officially charged with the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy, went to the Soviet Union. The trip was well planned. Stating that his mother needed care, he left the army on September 11, 1959 and received a salary of $ 1500.

He also presented several fictitious statements to foreign universities in order to obtain a student visa. Oswald spent two days with his mother in Fort Worth, Texas. Later on September 20 he went from New Orleans to Le Havre (France) by ship, from there he immediately moved to England. On his arrival in Southampton on October 9, he told customs officers that he had $ 700 in his pocket, and he planned to stay in the UK for a week before he would start his studies in Switzerland. However on the same day, he took a plane to Helsinki, where on 14th of October (according to Wikipedia) received Soviet visa. The next day, Oswald left Helsinki by train and arrived in Moscow on October 16.

Not without a purpose did I mention materials from Wikipedia. There is photographic proof that he received a visa one day earlier, on October 13. The fact is that he applied for the visa on Monday, October 12, and normally the answer would be awaited for five to seven days. Apparently, the visa in his passport was issued on October 14. However such "urgent" consideration of the documents is a bit strange.

Immediately after his arrival Oswald claimed he wanted to get a Soviet citizenship. There is a picture of the letter in which he wrote the following:

October 16, 1959

To the Supreme Soviet of the USSR

I, Lee Harvey Oswald, applying for the citizenship of the Soviet Union. My visa starts on October 15 and ends on October 21. I need shelter for the period while I am waiting for your decision.

At the present moment I am a citizen of the United States of America.

I want to obtain citizenship because I am a communist and a worker. I lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves. I am twenty years old, I served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps in occupation forces in Japan. I saw American imperialism in all its forms.

And I do not want to return to any country outside the Soviet Union.

I'm willing to give up my American citizenship and take the responsibilities of a Soviet citizen.

I saved some money that I earned for two years as a private in the U.S. army in order to come to Russia and apply for citizenship here. I do not have that much money to live here indefinitely or go to any other country. And I have no desire to go to any other country. I ask to consider my request as soon as possible.

Lee H. Oswald

However, on October 21 his application was rejected. Then Oswald opened the veins on his left hand in the bathtub of his hotel room, after that he was taken to a psychiatric hospital. There he was held until October 28. According to Oswald, during this time he met four Soviet officials, who asked if he wanted to return to the U.S., but he was uncompromising and insisted that he wanted to live in the Soviet Union as a Soviet citizen.

On October 31 Oswald appeared at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, saying that he wanted to give up U.S. citizenship. The story about the flight of a U.S. Marine to the Soviet Union was reported on the front page of The Associated Press and main newspapers in 1959.

Despite the fact that Oswald wanted to study at the Moscow State University, he was sent to Minsk to work as a lathe operator at "Minsk Radio Plant named after Lenin" (now a holding company, proudly named as "Horizon") engaged in the production of household, military and space electronics. His moving consummated on January 7, 1960 at 8:00 am 23 minutes.

Minsk train station in 60s
Minsk train station in 60s

Oswald arrived in Minsk by train without an escort. However, it is obvious that he could not get off at any other station because he would be immediately put into local custody. At the final destination in Minsk, he was met by members of the "Red Cross" and was taken to the Minsk Hotel, in the heart of the city. He was checked in room 453, a typical room for Soviet citizens. On his first day Oswald met the mayor, who promised the newly made 'comrade' an apartment, and also warned of hooligans that were able to offend a foreigner.

The next day after the arrival Oswald spent on shopping and dining in a restaurant in the hotel. According to documents of KGB he noticed that he was watched. January 10, based on the records in his diary, he made a little walk around, and he liked the city very much.

January 11, in his diary he made the following entry:
‘I visited Minsk Radio factory where I work. There I met an Argentine immigrant Alexander Seeger, a Polish Jew who emigrated to Argentina in 1938 and returned to Poland (now part of Belarus) in 1955. He speaks English with an American accent. He worked for a U.S. company in Argentina. He is head of the department, a qualified engineer from the late 40's, gentle, handsome. I think he wants to tell me something'.

Oswald began work on January 13, 1960 as a regulator of the experimental workshop.

From the records of those days:
‘As a trial, I was appointed as a mechanic with salary of 700 rubles a month, work is very easy. I am learning Russian fast enough. Now everyone is very friendly and kind. I meet many young Russian workers of my age. They are all quite different. But they all want to know about me, even offer to hold a general meeting so that I can tell about myself. I politely refuse.’

The place where Lee Harvey Oswald worked. Photo 1992
The place where Lee Harvey Oswald worked. Photo 1992

After a while Oswald got bored in Minsk. In January 1961, he wrote in his diary: ‘I'm starting to reconsider my desire to stay. Work is boring,there is no place to spend money, no nightclubs and bowling, no other recreation than trade union dance parties. I've had enough.’

On 1 February, he made the first attempt to contact the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to allow him to return home. It should be noted that Oswald never renounced his U.S. citizenship.

A copy of the work book of the Soviet citizen Lee Harvey Oswald
A copy of the work book of the Soviet citizen Lee Harvey Oswald

Oswald among colleagues
Oswald among colleagues

March 17 of that year, at a party, he met a girl named Marina Prusakova. Less than six weeks later they were married.

February 15, 1962 Marina gave birth to a baby girl, her name was June. On May 24, 1962 Marina and Oswald received documents at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow allowing her to emigrate to the United States. Oswald, Marina, and their infant daughter left the Soviet Union.

House in Minsk, where Oswald lived
House in Minsk, where Oswald lived


Now a retired employee of the Belarusian TV Sagyndykov Edward lives in the apartment which Oswald rented: 'I bought this apartment in 1997, and that Oswald lived here, I only found out when the hostess gave the key, probably she was afraid that I can refuse to live in a killer's' apartment. She said that he kept his rifle on the shelf in the closet, but I think this is nonsense. Nobody would permit him, they say, he was watched around the clock…’

Only did a balcony and views to the Ministry of Defense stay the same in the apartment since the time Oswald lived there. The rest disappeared.

The current owner thinks as an inappropriate joke bouth the idea to organize a memorial museum of "Dallas’ shot."

The Oswalds on the balcony of their home after 2 or 3 months of the wedding
The Oswalds on the balcony of their home after 2 or 3 months of the wedding

Stanislav Shushkevich was known in the world's history long before he became the head of Belarus, signed sentence to the Soviet Union in the Bialowieza Forest and then was removed from the leadership post. It was Shushkevich who taught Oswald Russian language, when he was sent to work at the Minsk Radio Engineering Plant. ‘I am preparing a book about communication with Lee Harvey and the various theories built around his personality, however due to shortage of time and because of the modern Belarusian realities I cannot finish. Oswald quickly became disillusioned with Soviet reality. He did not expect to encounter such an unsightly "routine" need to work in the factory, scant entertainment life. I was not close to Lee Harvey, teaching him became my social work at the plant. Oswald was not eager to study, however the homework was done carefully.’

As a person, unfortunately, he was not very interesting. He was not eager to work and often slept during work-shift, because in the evenings they danced in the club named Dzerzhinsky, and then entertained in his apartment with the invited girls and Belarusian friends until mornings.

Lee Harvey Oswalds with friends in Minsk
With friends in Minsk. The two girls were KGB informants 

It is difficult to say whether Oswald committed Kennedy's assassination. On the one hand, he gave the impression of inert, weak-willed person. Remeber his behaviour in Finland and ask for citizenship. On the other hand,  he is the military marine, he was used to carry out the orders. It was clear from his behavior in the factory that all the words of superiors he perceived as a clear guide to action.

Oswald and his wife are leaving Minsk
Oswald and his wife are leaving Minsk

A colleague of Oswald Minsk wife Marina Prusakova with who she had worked together in the hospital pharmacy, and now a pensioner Valentina Malishkova recalls: ‘Marina was a studious girl, executive, and very attractive, many liked her. But, - as she admitted,- ‘she was not very interested in flirting, she was looking for a husband who would be able to provide her a good life, because Marinochka came from a problematic family. She had never seen her father and lived in Minsk with her uncle. She set clear goals. So when an American appeared on the horizon, she grabbed him. I had heard after the collapse of the Union, that Marina was sent to Oswald by the KGB. I do not know if that's true, but it seemed she was in love with him very much.

Their marriage was registered in Registry Office after dating a couple of months, without any delay concerning the fact that Oswald was a foreigner. We were not surprised, because Marina's uncle worked at the Interior Ministry, he had power. Oswald often met his wife after work, always with flowers, trendily-dressed, wearing dark glasses, was very charming. It was obvious that he loved Marina, they always went out, had a good time, they did not stay at home. That fact that Marina and Oswald were going to leave, we found out just when everything had already been decided. We cried, of course, in our women's team. And then, when Kennedy was killed, there were many talks about it, we all felt sorry for Marina. Her life with second husband looked well.So her dream was fulfilled, she provided herself for a living’.

Oswald's family
Oswald's family

Sergei Lapuk, retired, in the past a mechanic on radio factory, a neighbor and friend of Lee Harvey Oswald: 'We lived with him in the same building next entrance, went to work and went out together: dancing, café. We were young.

He was a positive guy, almost did not drink, did not fight, but always flirted with girls and successfully. He is not good-looking on pictures and big-eared, but in life he was an attractive, tall, and, in addition, an American. It added appeal. Constantly he had sweeties around.

At work, our friendship was not encouraged, once the party organizer called me and warned me not to tell Oswald any secrets. And especially did not ask about America. He loved to have fun, everything was fun for him: the 1st May Day's demonstrations, folk festivals, and even once he went with us to dig potato in a collective farm. For factory workers it was a must but for him, as an American, they made it optional.

But he came, gave a look and escaped, he did not like to dig in the dirt. I would say that Oswald was not an outgoing fellow, rather a reserved man, canny, but had a sense of humor, he understood jokes. We were very surprised when it was said on the TV that it is sort of that he killed Kennedy. Oswald is too ordinary for such an action, it did not look like him ...'

It was found in Oswald's wallet at the time of his arrest


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