Friday, March 17, 2017

LHO Spoke No Russian in Russia?

One of the most easily refuted claims in John Armstrong’s book Harvey & Lee is that Lee Harvey Oswald (“Harvey” per Armstrong) spoke no Russian in the Soviet Union. One purpose of this silly allegation is to prove that Marina spoke English while in Russia and she was therefore a spy. The following excerpt is from page 334.

NOTE: When Oswald and Marina met, danced, and agreed to a date the following Friday they spoke a common language. Was it Russian or English? The HSCA asked Marina, "At this time you were speaking in Russian together?" She answered, "Yes. He spoke with an accent so I assumed he was from another state. " Oswald came in contact with hundreds of people in Russia, but Marina is the only person-THE ONLY PERSON [emphasis in original] who said that Oswald spoke Russian while in Russia. Ana Ziger, who saw Oswald three or four times a week during the 2 1 /2 years he lived in Minsk, said he never spoke a single word of Russian. All of Oswald's male friends spoke English and he associated with girls from the foreign language institute who spoke English. Oswald, as a cold war spy in a hostile country, would never dare to speak Russian to Marina or anyone. Therefore when Oswald and Marina met it is almost certain she spoke English with Oswald.

But Armstrong’s own witness, Ana Ziger, does not confirm his allegation. In 1995, Ziger told an Argentinian publication that “Nobody could say anything [about lies LHO told] because he spoke Russian poorly Dad would translate ...” So, LHO certainly did speak Russian, albeit poorly at the time, and Alexander Ziger translated as a matter of convenience.

There is, of course, a mountain of additional evidence refuting the assertion. The definitive article debunking the claim was written by John Delane Williams.

As Williams points out, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of individuals in Russia who could testify to the fact that LHO spoke Russian. Ernst Titovets knew LHO well in Russia and stated that he spoke Russian. Upon learning of Armstrong’s claims, Titovets interviewed the following people who knew LHO and confirmed that he spoke Russian:

· Vyacheslav Stelmakh

· Vladimir Zhidovich

· Dr. Alexander Mastykin

To sum up, another bold assertion by Armstrong is completely without merit.


  1. Well yes, he learned Russian by reading Russian language material, but he really mastered it only about the time he returned to the U.S. Why would his CIA handler want him to pretend that he couldn't speak Russian? How was he supposed to gather information if he didn't know the language. Learning it in Japan was easy and who in the Marine Corps would find that odd? Don't lots of Marines learn languages pretty quickly by reading comic books in Russian? What advantage would HARVEY have had if he already knew the language?
    Bottom line: these other Oswald characters were used to cause Armstrong to become confused and go down rabbit
    holes. Besides, the CIA is perfectly capable of producing false school records just to further confound future esearchers like John Armstrong. That's probably what happened. It's just unfortunate that as a by-product, you have to spend so much time and energy sorting it all out. CIA should be thankful for T.P.

  2. I think Armstrongs strong point is his research. His suggestions and assumptions are, I believe, sometimes too simplistic. The point that T.P rather glaringly omits is that Marina and others said he spoke Russian fluently and with a Baltic accent, which is simply not true, even using T.P's own evidence. Which brings me to my favourite term in the JFK case ' mutual exclusivity' . 'Harvey' not speaking Russian when around Marina or Anitas father is mutually exclusive to him being able to speak basic Russian conversationally. You can have both coexisting. What is also omitted from the above quite deliberately is the other evidence of Marinas English ability.
    Harvey would have had basic Russian ability as his whole cover or genuine situation ( depending on what you believe) was that of a defector who loved mother Russia because he didn't fit in. The only issue for me is Marinas insinuation that he spoke fluent Russian with a Baltic accent. There is in fact a lot which Marina has said that is not backed up.


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