*EPF303   07/01/92 *

(Article on HFAC Asia panel hearing on POWs-MIAs)  (600)
By Jane A. Morse
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- There is no evidence that any live American prisoners of war
(POWs) are being held on Russian territory, according to Malcolm Toon, head
of the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.

Toon, who was for eight years U.S. ambassador to the former Soviet Union,
has just returned from an investigative trip to Russia and reported his
findings at a hearing July 1 before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee
for Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Toon noted that during his trip, he appeared on Russian television along
with his counterparts on the Russian delegation to ask the public for any
information they might have regarding U.S. servicemen that might have been
held in the Soviet Union after either the Vietnam War or the Korean War as
well as World War Two.  So far, there have been about 15 replies, he said,
which will be investigated.  The Russians have promised to deliver within
two weeks any information regarding living American POWs in Russia, he

The Russians as well as Vietnamese officials claim there were no Americans
POWs ever sent to the Soviet Union from Vietnam, Toon said.  In addition
there is no evidence that any American POWS were shipped to the Soviet
Union from Korea, he said.

Regarding Russian President Boris Yeltsin's statement that there were
American POWs of the Vietnam War in Russia, Toon said he thinks "Yeltsin
got his facts confused."  Toon noted that four American sailors did in fact
defect during the Vietnam War, were taken to the Soviet Union, but then
were sent on to Europe for propaganda purposes.  Toon did not say what
ultimately happened to them, but apparently they never returned to the
Soviet Union.

Toon told the Subcommittee that Yeltsin's subordinates could not verify
Yeltsin's statement nor explain what information Yeltsin might have used as
a basis for his statement.  He said he expects the Russian report within
1he next two weeks will explain Yeltsin's claims.

Toon said he is inclined to believe the information provided by Russian
investigators, but he noted that many of the Russian officials involved in
the POW investigations are old apparatchiks with a mindset which makes it
difficult for them to cooperate with their old enemy, the United States.

Toon also pointed out that Russian archives "are a complete shambles," thus
complicating the investigation process.  He said that there is no way of
knowing if the KBG records have been "cleansed."   Toon said he suspects
the records could have been doctored, but he has gotten no reports to
verify this.

Also testifying at the hearing were Alan Ptak, deputy assistant secretary of
defense for POW/MIA affairs, and Bob Sheetz, chief of the Defense
Intelligence Agency's office on POW/MIAs.

Ptak said that the Department of Defense (DoD) is well along in the process
of declassifying information on POWs and MIAs from the Vietnam War, which
will be turned over to the Federal Research Division of the Library of

Sheetz reported that Vietnam has not been forthcoming in providing all the
documents the United States has requested, which the U.S. government knows
for sure exist.  He noted as an example a group of documents the United
States has requested to look at that the U.S. experts are certain are being
held by one of the Vietnamese ministries.  The Vietnamese say, however,
these documents were "eaten by bugs" and destroyed sometime in 1979.