ACCESSION NUMBER:233633 FILE ID:EP-303 DATE:07/01/92 TITLE:TOON SAYS NO EVIDENCE LIVE POWS BEING HELD IN RUSSIA (07/01/92) TEXT:*92070103.EPF *EPF303 07/01/92 * TOON SAYS NO EVIDENCE LIVE POWS BEING HELD IN RUSSIA (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 said. 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 Congress. 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. NNNN .