Alik and Marina by Dave Reitzes Rep. BOGGS. The Oswald trip to Russia was very interesting. Such defection had not been arranged in advance because he arrived in France, went over to London, flew from there to Helsinki, and, bang, he went right over into Russia. Mr. MC CLOY. Another thing, my wife is pretty suspicious, because she's tried to get some American citizen, who is married to a Russian, get his wife out. She couldn't get it. How in the world did she get it? That's the most difficult thing in the world. Sen. RUSSELL. That Marine guard who married that Russian girl, it took six months. Rep. FORD. There's some sailor staying over there. They want to throw him out and he won't leave until he takes his wife with him. I think that's right now. Mr. DULLES. I would like to get that material into the hands of the CIA as soon as possible to explain the Russian parts. Sen. RUSSELL. I think you've got more faith in them than I have. I think they'll doctor anything they hand to us. Mr. DULLES. What Oswald said in his diary, about his relationship with them, about his attempted suicide, about the payment he got, all that business requires a very careful study. Sen. RUSSELL. Well, all of that writing material that he brought out of there with him. CHAIRMAN. And our Government furnished him four hundred and some dollars to bring that Russian wife over. Sen. RUSSELL. The first time they brought home one of those defectors from Korea I wired the President, I wired the Secretary of State, I protested violently paying one dime to bring home those chaps who have spit on the American flag, jumped up and down on it in the mud, and in the presence of all of our people and soldiers renounce their citizenship. Whether they can do that or not, we didn't have to pay their way home. And this last one, I took that up with President Kennedy and they would not pay his way home, and finally this broadcasting company paid his way home. -- Warren Commission Executive Session Transcript, December 16, 1963 According to the Warren Report, the Marion Lykes left New Orleans on September 20 and arrived at Le Havre on October 9th. He shared a cabin with Billy Joe Lord, a high school graduate on his way to college in France. Oswald was amused that Lord had a Bible with him, and asked Lord how he could believe such a book in light of modern science's many discoveries. He and Lord argued the issue of religion versus atheism, but Lord later remembered it as a reasonably friendly debate, and the two of them chatted casually throughout the trip, although Oswald a bit "standoffish." He seemed reluctant to talk about his background, but mentioned that his mother worked in a drugstore in Fort Worth (she didn't), that he intended to travel in Europe (he didn't) and to attend college in Switzerland (he wouldn't) (WR 688; Epstein, 379-80) . The other two passengers on the freighter, Lt. Col. and Mrs. George B. Church, Jr., found him unfriendly, and he resisted Mrs. Church's attempts to take his picture. When she asked for his address, he asked suspiciously what she wanted it for. She said she wanted to send him a Christmas card. He gave her his mother's Fort Worth address, but told her his name was "Oswalt." On the few occasions he conversed with the couple, he spoke with some bitterness about the burdens of his poor mother (whom he was utterly deserting) and the Marine Corps. He mentioned he would be furthering his education in Switzerland. (Ibid.). On the afternoon of October 8, Oswald disembarked the Marion Lykes off the coast of LeHavre and boarded the Liberte bound for Southampton. The Liberte crossed the English Channel and arrived at "Cowes Road" near Southampton Dock. A tugboat brought him to the British mainland where he passed through customs, and probably took a British Railways train to Waterloo Station, London, arriving late in the evening (Chris Mills, "A Flight of Fancy," JFK/DPQ Quarterly). He told the British authorities he intended to remain in the United Kingdom for one week, then proceed to the university in Switzerland (WR 688). The Warren Report states that he departed England the same day (Ibid.), however, his passport was stamped October 10. His arrival at Helsinki Airport, Finland, is stamped with the same date: October 10, 1959. He registered at the Hotel Torni in downtown Helsinki on October 10 some time before midnight. Researchers have long charged that Oswald could not have made it to the hotel in time by a commercial route, and must have had military assistance. Researcher Chris Mills has demonstrated that if Oswald embarked for Helsinki in the early morning hours of October 10, there were several flights that would have brought him to or near Helsinki that same day. The following day he moved to the Klaus Kurki Hotel (Ibid.). "Oswald probably applied for a visa at the Russian consulate on October 12, his first business day in Helsinki. The visa was issued October 14" (WR 690). Of the different cities he could have applied for his visa, he somehow ended up the one known in intelligence circles to have the fastest turnaround time due to the consulate's location and excellent relationship with the Finnish government. "It was valid until October 20 and permitted him to take one trip of not more than 6 days to the Soviet Union. . . . He left Helsinki by train on the following day, crossed the Finnish-Russian border at Vainikkala, and arrived in Moscow on October 16" (WR 690). On Saturday, October 31, 1959, at a little after 11 am, Jean Hallett, a receptionist at the American Embassy, walked into Consul Richard Snyder's office, laid Lee Harvey Oswald's passport on Snyder's desk, and said, "There's a man here and he wants to renounce his citizenship." Oswald entered, striding past the other Consul, John McVickar. He was dressed in a dark suit with a white tie. Snyder thought it was odd he wasn't wearing an overcoat or hat, and noticed the "thin, dressy white gloves" he had on -- possibly from his USMC uniform. Snyder was struck by the "humorless and robotic" quality of Oswald's demeanor. "What can I do for you?" Snyder asked (John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, 2; February 26, 1994, interview with Snyder). Firmly but without emotion, Oswald said, "I've come to give up my American passport and renounce my citizenship," then handed Snyder an undated note with his intentions stated in writing: I, Lee Harey [sic] Oswald, do hereby request that my present citizenship in the United States of America be revoked. I have entered the Soviet Union for the express purpose of appling [sic] for citizenship in the Soviet Union, through the means of naturalization. My request for citizenship is now pending before the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. I take these steps for political reasons. My request for the revoking of my American citizenship is made only after the longest and most serious considerations. [signed] Lee H. Oswald The note, cited in Newman, 529fn., is CE 908 (18 H 97). (Note that Lee Harvey Oswald has misspelled his middle name at the beginning of the letter - and done so in type; it is the only spelling mistake in the entire letter.) "I've thought this thing over very carefully and I know what I'm doing," Oswald continued. I was just discharged from the Marine Corps on September 11th, and I have been planning to do this for two years." Snyder later recalled that this remark especially caught his attention. Across the room, John McVickar looked up from his work; Oswald would later recall with some satisfaction that McVickar was visibly intrigued (CE 94, 16 H 96). "I know what you're going to say," Oswald went on, "but I don't want any lectures or advice. So let's save my time and yours, and you just give me the papers to sign and I'll leave." He was referring to the paperwork to formally renounce his American citizenship. Snyder was struck by Oswald's "cocksure" and arrogant attitude, and concluded, "This was part of a scene he had rehearsed before coming into the embassy. It was a preplanned speech" (Newman, 3). John Newman writes, "Indeed, Oswald had planned well -- exceptionally well. 'Since he arrived in Moscow in mid-October 1959 and was discharged from the Marine Corps in September 1959,' McVickar told the State Department in 1964, 'he would have to have made a direct and completely arranged trip' (CE 958, 18 H 332). In addition, Oswald had entered the Soviet Union through Helsinki, not the customary route for Americans, but an ideal place to apply for an exception to the rules and get a quick entry visa. 'It [Helsinki as an entry point] is a well enough known fact among people who are working in the Soviet Union and undoubtedly people who are working in the Soviet Union and undoubtedly people who are associated with Soviet matters,' McVickar later told the Warren Commission, 'but I would say it was not a commonly known fact among the ordinary run of people in the United States.' In fact, even in Helsinki, the average turnaround time for a visa was still seven to fourteen days at that time, something which the Warren Commission checked into carefully after the Kennedy assassination. However, the point is that exceptions were made -- perhaps more than anyplace else -- in Helsinki" (Newman, 3, citing 5 H 303). "Oswald told Snyder he had not applied for a Soviet tourist visa until he reached Helsinki on October 14, and that in doing so he had purposely not told the Soviet Embassy of his plan to remain in the Soviet Union. Oswald then described how he had implemented the next phase of his game plan upon reaching Moscow: On October 16 he had applied for Soviet citizenship by letter to the Supreme Soviet" (Newman, 4). It was the Consul's responsibility to explain to Oswald the consequences of the act he was discussing. Renunciation of US citizenship is permanent. Should Oswald acquire Soviet citizenship, it is unlikely he would ever be permitted to leave the USSR; should the Soviets decline to offer him citizenship, he would be a stateless individual, with nowhere to turn for assistance. So far, Snyder was meeting only with stubborn resistance. Examining Oswald's passport, Snyder noticed that the Marine had scratched out his address. Snyder said, "Well, I'm afraid that to complete the papers for renunciation I will need some basic information, including an address in the US and an address of your closest living relative." Oswald protested, but finally gave Snyder Marguerite's address in Fort Worth (Ibid., 4). Snyder asked him why he wanted to defect, and Oswald said it was primarily because he was a Marxist. "Life will be lonely as a Marxist," Snyder said knowingly. Indeed, as John Newman points out, Oswald would have to be -- to put it kindly -- misinformed to think that the Soviet Union circa 1959 had much sympathy for Marxism. Oswald only replied, "I was warned you would try to talk me out of defecting." It was a remark that would later cause Snyder to lose some rest, and not only him. The statement was quickly eclipsed, however, by a more immediately pertinent claim. Snyder said, "Oswald offered the information that he had been a radar operator in the Marine Corps and that he had voluntarily stated to unnamed Soviet officials that as a Soviet citizen he would make known to them such information concerning the Marine Corps and his specialty as he possessed. He intimated that he might know something of special interest" (Ibid., 6). Were the would-be defector the Lee Oswald who tracked the top-secret U-2 photoreconnaissance at Atsugi and elsewhere, he would certainly possess something "of special interest" to the Soviets. In fact, many have speculated that it was none other than Lee Harvey Oswald who was responsible for the USSR's unexpectedly downing a U-2 flight the following year and capturing its pilot, a CIA agent named Francis Gary Powers, who failed to ingest the capsule of cyanide intended for such an eventuality. With considerable cunning, Khrushchev announced the recovery of the wreckage of a spy plane, but withheld the information that its pilot had been taken alive. President Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly assured the Soviets that the plane was unknown stateside, and certainly had not been dispatched by the US to violate Soviet airspace. Khrushchev then produced the pilot, who carried on his person a US Department of Defense identification card which classified him as a civilian employee of the military, i.e., a CIA agent, remarkably similar to the card Oswald would later be arrested with. Eisenhower was caught in a very public lie, the U-2 spy plane -- a CIA/military collaboration that was among the most closely guarded secrets of both organizations -- was fatally compromised, and an unprecedented peace summit between Khrushchev and Eisenhower was tersely called off by the Soviets. Khrushchev would not so much as consider another such summit until Eisenhower's successor, John F. Kennedy, took office. Did Oswald betray the US and supply the Soviets with data on the U-2, data potent enough to neutralize the spy plane's threat? Consul Richard Snyder, just to name one of many people, believed it was a distinct possibility. It is unlikely that speculation will ever cease in the matter. However, there simply is no evidence that Oswald did so, particularly in light of the fact that -- to the best of our knowledge -- the USSR did not have the firepower to down a U-2 operating at its normal altitude of 90,000 feet. In other words, there is much validity to the theory developed by the Department of Defense and later embraced by pilot Francis Gary Powers -- that the U-2 had been sabotaged from within. We also know with reasonable certainty that Oswald was not treated any better than any other foreigner -- particularly an American -- would have been by the Soviet government during his stay. Lastly, for what it's worth, the record as we have it shows absolutely no interest on the part of the Navy or the Justice Department in filing charges against Oswald upon his return. Oswald was blowing smoke; he had not spoken to any Soviet official about his past, much less made any offers or promises. Moreover, today the Russian officials and KGB agents who dealt with Oswald's case state flatly that any such offer would have been greeted with utmost suspicion (cf. Mailer, Oswald's Tale) -- a claim that, in this author's opinion, is perfectly credible. There were only two things Oswald could have hoped to achieve by saying this. Either he intended the provocation to affect his renunciation of citizenship -- presumably, although far from necessarily, to expedite it -- or Richard Snyder's theory is correct: that Oswald assumed -- with good reason -- that the KGB had the American Embassy bugged, and that he was speaking specifically "for Russian ears in my office" (Ibid., 6). Snyder, however, was the apparent victor in the confrontation: He calmly informed Oswald that it was now past noon, and the Embassy was closed for business. If he wished, he could return on Monday and complete his business. Oswald stormed out. If he was angered by this sudden bureaucratic development, he did not choose to tell the world. His "Historic Diary" reports: "I leave Embassy, elated at this showdown, returning to my hotel. I feel now my enorgies [sic] are not spent in vain." More significantly, he reports, "I'm sure Russians will except [sic] me after this sign of my faith in them" (Ibid., 6-7; CE 24, 16 H 97). What sign of faith? Richard Snyder knew: Oswald's performance that day was not for his benefit, but for those who made it their business to monitor the comings and goings at the Embassy: the KGB. If his goal, on the other hand, had he actually been to renounce his US citizenship, then he apparently changed his mind fairly quickly. He left his passport with Snyder, perhaps a "sign of faith," but never returned to the Embassy to complete the paperwork he'd expressed such eagerness to put behind him. For some time he would be heard complaining about the red tape and bureaucracy at the American Embassy which was preventing him from renouncing his US citizenship -- which would thereby make him eligible for Soviet citizenship. But he would never take the perfectly simple step of returning to the Embassy during normal business hours. On November 3, Oswald wrote to US Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson to ask that his citizenship be revoked and to complain about Snyder. Snyder himself replied, reminding Oswald he only had to return to the Embassy and complete the paperwork. Oswald didn't go (Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Marina and Lee, 69). When interviewed by journalist Priscilla Johnson (not yet Johnson McMillan) on November 16, Oswald was still complaining about Snyder. In Marina and Lee, McMillan writes, "During our conversation Lee returned again and again to what he called the embassy's 'illegal' treatment of him . . . He spread out two letters on my desk: one his letter of protest to . . . Llewellyn Thompson, and the other his letter from Snyder, which said that he was free to come to the embassy at any time and take the oath. Well, I said, all you have to do is go back one more time. He swore he would never set foot there again. Once he became a Soviet citizen, he said, he would allow 'my government' to handle it for him" (McMillan, 70). McMillan's book Marina and Lee is dedicated to the thesis that the Warren Commission was correct in its conclusions vis-a-vis the assassination, the Tippit murder, the attempted murder of General Walker, and Oswald's solitary guilt. She makes an interesting observation, however, regarding Oswald's reaction towards the Consul: "Lee's tone was level, almost expressionless, and while I realized that his words were bitter, somehow I did not FEEL that he was angry [emphasis in original]" (Ibid.). She continues, "Proudly, as a boy might, he told me about his only expedition into Moscow alone. He had walked four blocks to Detsky Mir, the children's department store, and bought himself an ice cream cone. I could scarcely believe my ears. Here he was, coming to live in this country forever, and he had so far dared venture into only four blocks of it" (Ibid.). Oswald had been in Russia for a solid month. On October 31, 1959, 7:59 am Washington time, a teletype at State Department brought the first news stateside that an ex-Marine with knowledge of a confidential and potentially compromising nature had announced his intention to tell all the Soviets. By 10:19 am the FBI had begun to circulate information on the incident. Sam Papich at the CIA expressed vague interest. The FBI contacted the Office of Naval Intelligence, where J. M. Barron stated the ONI had no knowledge of Oswald, but reported some background information on Oswald from his Marine file. Apprised of the situation, Barron wrote up a memorandum, concluding, "No action contemplated by this office." Most surprisingly, when the Warren Commission and later the HSCA inquired about when the CIA first received information about Oswald's "defection," nobody had an answer. Make no mistake, they received plenty of information. There were two obstacles facing those who wanted to trace the possession of those early documents. First, curiously, there was a conspicuous lack of information on the standard routing sheets, which would normally should exactly who examined each document and when they saw it. Second, extremely curiously, no CIA file was opened on Oswald. At a time when the CIA routinely opened security files on citizens known to receive left-leaning periodicals, somehow an avowed traitor with confidential military knowledge didn't create a ripple. John Newman spends a large amount of time in Oswald and the CIA analyzing this mysterious paper trail, particularly why a 201 file on Oswald was not opened -- as per standard procedure -- until December 8, 1960, over a full year after he had "defected" with his knowledge "of special interest" (16-59). As Newman admits, no answers are forthcoming. There would seem to be only two possible alternatives, however: Either Oswald's actions were met with an utterly astonishing combination of disinterest, incompetence, and negligence -- or someone in a high position had reason to believe that the "defector" posed absolutely, positively no security threat whatsoever. With the resources at our disposal, it is not possible to definitively learn which of the above actually was the case. The news of the "defection" spread quickly. Oswald expressed surprise when UPI reporter Robert J. Korengold came knocking on his hotel door at 2 pm. He refused Korengold's request for an interview, but was more forthcoming to Korengold's fellow UPI correspondent, Aline Mosby. (Those such as Norman Mailer who theorize that Oswald was a homosexual and those such as Priscilla Johnson McMillan who judge all of his actions based on a Freudian model of resentment towards his mother should ask themselves why it would be that the man so described would consistently be more cooperative with young, attractive female journalists than with male reporters. It is a question that one would expect to have occurred to McMillan, as she herself was another such beneficiary in Moscow.) Oswald refused to state why he was "defecting." Mosby's most memorable quotation of the young turncoat would run all over the world: "I will never return to the United States for any reason" (Ibid., 8-9). Oswald's two-and-a-half year stay in Russia will always remain something of a mystery, but if the information given Norman Mailer is reflective of his activities, there may be little to speculate about. For his book, Oswald's Tale, Mailer was the first Western writer given access to eyewitnesses to Oswald's Russian years, facilitated by journalist Lawrence Schiller and his long-standing, cordial relationship to the CIA. While no Westerner has ever been granted access to the KGB's unsanitized files on Oswald, by all eyewitness accounts from KGB sources and Oswald acquaintances, Oswald's time in Russia was rather humdrum. The KGB should know: they've admitted to placing Oswald under surveillance during virtually all daylight hours, and even had infra-red closed circuit cameras in his Minsk apartment. If the officials currently in charge of the files can be believed, Oswald spent two and a half years working at a Minsk electronics factory, attending the requisite Party meetings (which he took particular umbrage at), socialized often, got married, and came home. True or not, Mailer was given access to a number of uneventful, monotonous surveillance reports on Oswald leaving his apartment, going shopping, meeting friends, and doing absolutely nothing that raises any suspicion in the minds of his KGB watchers nor in the reader today. Upon his arrival in Moscow he was met by Intourist guide Rimma Shirakova, who befriended him during his early days in the country. (Shirakova was also a KGB informant, as were most Intourist guides.) Shirakova told Mailer it was she who gave Oswald the nickname "Alik," a common Russian name. Russians considered "Lee" a Chinese name. The KGB was suspicious of the American arrival, and initially refused his requests to stay. On the eve of his scheduled departure, Oswald staged a suicide attempt by slashing one of his wrists. His Russian medical records, available for the first time, show he had made only a superficial cut. The authorities, nonetheless, were impressed by the display -- even though they knew it not to be genuine -- and granted him permission to remain in the USSR on a temporary basis. It has been suggested that the Soviets did so to avoid the embarrassment the ex-Marine threatened to bring upon them, which is a distinct possibility. On January 4, 1960, Oswald was granted permission to remain in the USSR as a "stateless person." He talked on many occasions of seeking Soviet citizenship, but never attempted to do so. Retired General Igor Ivanovich Guzman of the KGB's Counter-intelligence directorate told Norman Mailer that Oswald was very carefully watched to determine if he spoke Russian upon his arrival, or if he took to the language unusually easily later on. Such a facility would be a clear sign to the KGB of likely ties to American intelligence (Mailer, 71). Although the KGB eventually concluded that Oswald was not an American agent, Guzman's statement raises yet more speculation about the subject. The Russians are now on record as essentially confirming Oswald's own story in his "Historic Diary," that he knew no Russian (or virtually none) upon his arrival, and learned all he later knew by studying "two self-teaching Russian language books" eight hours a day in his Moscow hotel room while he awaited news of his citizenship status (diary entry of November 17 to December 30). This is absurd, and it is difficult to imagine the Russians falling for it; yet apparently they did. It is a fact that Lee Harvey Oswald spoke excellent conversational Russian as of the summer of 1959, as evidenced by the statements of Rosaleen Quinn, who had intensively studied Russian with a Berlitz tutor for two years, and who found Oswald to speak Russian much more fluently than she did (Epstein, 374-75). Even as far back as February 25, 1959, when Oswald was tested on his Russian by the Marines, he scored just under fifty percent -- not bad for a supposed beginner, and already enough to speak at least the handful of phrases the average tourist memorizes before a trip to a foreign country. But Shirakova's recollection couldn't be more specific: "He didn't seem to know a single word in Russian" (Mailer, 43). Oswald arrived in Moscow already speaking fluent Russian -- and pretended that he did not. Oswald DECEIVED both his acquaintances in the USSR and the KGB agents assigned to monitor him -- who were SPECIFICALLY listening for signs that he'd spoken Russian prior to his arrival in the Soviet Union. Why? If Oswald was merely the pro-Communist, pro-Russian young man he claimed to be, why would he not proudly display his proficiency with the language at the earliest possible moment? Would he not be anxious to be accepted by the Soviets -- both his acquaintances and the officials who would decide whether or not he could remain in the USSR -- and would he not suspect that familiarity with their language could potentially facilitate this acceptance? From October 1959 through a substantial part of the following year, Oswald would deceive dozens, perhaps hundreds of Russians, some of whom had been trained specifically to spot deception. Oswald possessed both the ability to deceive and evidently possessed a motivation -- perhaps several -- to do so. Sent to Minsk, Oswald was granted a large and relatively luxurious apartment, a low-status position at the Belorussian Radio and Television Plant, and a comfortable salary on top of the funds he continued to receive from the Red Cross. He made a number of friends, and being an American, was of unusual interest to the young Russian women he met. His "Historic Diary" records a few sexual conquests with a welcome sparseness of detail. He applied to Russia's Patrice Lumumba University, and would eventually be rejected. He courted a co-worker, a Polish Jew named Ella German, through the second half of 1960. According to "Historic Diary" (which was actually written in only two or three sittings during Oswald's trip home, possibly from earlier writings or notes) Oswald proposed to Ella on January 2, 1961. She refused him and, by his own account, he was heartbroken and bitter for some time. Oswald met his future wife, Marina Nikolaevna Prusakova, according to his diary, on March 17, 1961, at a trade union dance. He introduced himself as Alik, and he asked her to dance. "He was wearing a gray suit, a white shirt, and a white tie of some funny foreign material. The tie and his accent told her immediately that he was not a Russian. He must be from Latvia or Estonia" (Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Marina and Lee, 60). Only later that evening did she find out he was an American*. (*Marina's first impression of Oswald is often misconstrued by researchers who report that she believed Oswald to be a native-speaking Russian. Not so; from his accent she inferred he was from the Baltic region outside of Russia, where Russian would not be his native language.) One of the most striking things about Priscilla McMillan's account of Marina and Lee in Russia is the near-total absence of the words "Lee" or "Harvey." Oswald in Russia is "Alik," period: Alik is how he introduces himself to Marina (McMillan, 60), and Alik is his name by which he is known all through the Russian period. Researchers have heard this, of course, but to see the name used time after time after time after time is something quite different. In the USSR, there was no Lee and no Harvey -- just Alik. (Note: Priscilla Johnson McMillan is widely disparaged by assassination researchers as an unreliable source; she is routinely referred to as a CIA agent and disinformation artist. Such accusations say more about the research community's open hostility to proponents of the lone assassin theory than to McMillan's personal credibility. The primary source for her book, Marina and Lee, is Marina Oswald Porter, who swore under oath to the HSCA that the book's portrayal of her marriage is a factual and accurate. McMillan did a great deal of research, and one may fault Priscilla Johnson McMillan for not being critical enough -- a judgment not necessarily borne out by the text itself -- just as one may dismiss her for not independently assessing the merits of the Warren Commission's conclusions -- a subject arguably outside the scope of her book -- or simply for promoting a version of the assassination that one disagrees with. But make no mistake: her primary source is Marina Oswald. Whatever faults one finds with McMillan's book -- this author was astonished at the sophomoric psychoanalytic judgments presented -- nevertheless, if one wishes to argue with the facts reported concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, one must argue with Marina Oswald Porter, not her biographer.) On the night Marina met her future husband, she got her first glimpse at the contrariness -- or apparent contrariness -- that defines him to many researchers. Oswald had supposedly traveled halfway around the world to escape the "so-called democracy" of the United States, only to defend that nation in the USSR. Before the dance that night, Alik and Marina had separately attended a lecture by the mother of a friend of a friend of Marina's, a young man named Yury. She had spoken about America, where she had recently visited. Alik and Marina were among a group of people who went to Yury's apartment after the dance and spoke with his mother, asking her numerous questions about The US. "They all sat together in the living room asking Yury's mother questions," McMillan writes. "Alik listened carefully but did not say anything. Finally, Yury's mother went to bed and the boys turned to Alik. They wanted to know what was right and what was wrong in Yury's mother's description of America. . . . He dismissed some of her remarks as 'propaganda.' The rest, he said, was fair enough. Yury's mother had been struck by the absence of lines in American stores. She attributed it to those two vices of the capitalist system, unemployment and overproduction, and concluded that Americans were too poor to buy. Alik politely disagreed. The stores seem empty, he said, because there is plenty for everyone at a price each can afford. 'Your mother is right, though,' he said to Yury. 'Unemployment is a problem'" (McMillan, 61). Alik asked Marina for her phone number, but she demurred, suggesting she would see him at another of the trade union dances. The following Saturday, March 25, 1961, they met again at the Palace of Culture. Alik said he was happy to see her again, and they spent the rest of the evening together. Marina agreed to meet him for a date the following Thursday, and he asked for her phone number "just in case." On Tuesday he called twice for Marina but she was not in; he called again on Wednesday. He had to break their date; he was in the Fourth Clinical Hospital, as the need had suddenly arisen for an adenoid operation. He asked her if she would come visit him, and on Friday she did. Alik was overjoyed to see her, and begged her to visit him again, and he seemed so lonely that she agreed. They saw each other numerous times after Alik's release from the hospital. On April 18, 1961, just a month and a day since they met, Alik proposed to Marina, and she accepted. The two were married on April 30, 1961 (McMillan, 77-89). For thirty-five years, suspicious assassination researchers -- not excluding the FBI, CIA, Warren Commission, and HSCA -- have tried to uncover traces of sinister forces directing this whirlwind courtship. No such traces have ever been uncovered. The HSCA questioned Marina Oswald Porter bluntly about the matter, and she insisted that nothing out of the ordinary had taken place. Marina did discover very quickly, however, that Alik had apparently told her a number of lies. When they met he told her was 24; she found out immediately prior to their marriage ceremony that he was only 21. He explained that he thought she would take him more seriously were he older (McMillan, 80, 89). When she'd asked him about his family in America, he told her he had no mother, and when she asked if his mother was dead, Alik only said, "I don't want to talk about it -- it's too painful." Later he told her his mother was dead and that he had been raised by an aunt. Marina told him that her parents, too, were dead, and she felt that this was something of a bond between them (Ibid., 80). Later she would discover that he had lied (apparently), and that his mother was still alive (apparently). He had told her earlier that he had no desire to return to the United States, when he had already -- before they met -- written to the American Embassy to request the return of his passport and assistance in returning to the US (Ibid., 85). When Marina found out she expressed her willingness to go with him. The Oswalds would spend another year in Russia as they awaited permission from the Soviets to leave the country, and assistance from the US to return. Oswald, of course, had not expatriated himself, and was perfectly within his rights to return; it was largely a matter of arranging financial assistance and waiting out the reams of red tape. (The Warren Commission -- and many others -- have pondered the question of why the State Department would agree to assist Oswald in returning home the way they did, which largely involved a loan for expenses and some assistance in his travel plans. Again, the circumstances seem mysterious, but nothing has ever been uncovered to suggest that Oswald received preferential treatment at this time.) Marina was pregnant with their daughter, June, who would be born in February 1962. In June 1962, after many months after legal haggling, Oswald and his wife and child were on their way to the United States.