1. Archive

Mrs. Kennedy wrote to Soviets

Just days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, his wife, Jacqueline, appealed to Soviet leaders to continue peaceful relations with the United States, Soviet documents show.

In conversations with Soviet officials at her husband's funeral and in a handwritten note to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev a week after the shooting, Mrs. Kennedy asked the Soviets for "continuation of self-control and restraint" in Cold War relations and to pursue peace with the United States, the documents state.

KGB and Soviet diplomatic documents about the Kennedy assassination, which Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave to President Clinton a few months ago, were described to the Associated Press by a senior Clinton administration official.

About 80 pages in Russian and their translation will be released today by the National Archives and Records Administration, which collects, maintains and makes public Kennedy assassination records.

The documents are just a fraction of the six volumes of Soviet records on accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald that a federal panel had failed to obtain in 1996.

Members of the now-defunct Assassination Records Review Board said that the 80 pages, as described by the White House official, were interesting but that there are still hundreds of documents _ including surveillance records of Oswald and reports from KGB operatives in the United States _ that have yet to be turned over.

"It sounds like a carefully selected group of records that doesn't contain a lot of what is there," said John Tunheim, a former chairman of the review board who saw some of the documents when he was part of a delegation that traveled to Russia in 1996.

The volumes of Oswald records stood 4 to 5 feet high, said Tunheim.

The review board was set up to locate, gather and make public all known assassination records. It went out of business last year.

U.S. experts who translated and reviewed the documents have informed Clinton they shed little light on the assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, but provide new details about the reactions of the Soviets and Kennedy's widow, the administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The documents show that the Soviets were chagrined by news reports linking Oswald to "leftist" elements and Soviet agencies.

Oswald, a former Marine, defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and renounced his U.S. citizenship. That attracted the attention of the KGB, which bugged his apartment in the Belarus capital city of Minsk, paid neighbors to inform on him and kept Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina, under constant surveillance.

Oswald returned to the United States in 1962, settling in Dallas with his wife and baby.

The KGB denounced as "slander" U.S. media reports suggesting Soviet complicity in Kennedy's death and suggested they served only to hide "who is really behind the assassination," the official quoted the documents as saying.

Diplomatic memos and notes also show that the Soviets _ media reports aside _ were pleased by high-level U.S. contacts immediately after the assassination that left them confident the shooting in Dallas wouldn't harm their relations with the United States, the official said.