Essay: The KAL 007 Survivor Anecdotes
The time has come to publicly present, in the fullest way possible, the results of the investigation, at the present stage, and the whereabouts and the conditions of passengers of KAL 007. “The fullest way possible” needs, first, to be qualified. What you will read are the results, rather than the detailed documentation of sources. This is because of the following:
1. In some cases, there are definite confidentiality commitments that the Committee for the Rescue has made to family members of the passengers. We await permission for release. These commitments need to be honored for continued cooperation. 2. Follow-up investigation and verification, in some cases, are presently in progress. 3. The safety of informants may still be at stake.
The information in this essay entails research results, first and second hand testimony, and educated conjecture. We have noted when sources are cited that were not directly communicated to the Committee for the Rescue. Some information is exact and thorough, while other information is vague and incomplete. I am well aware, especially due to the contrast between the detailed and the inadequate information available, of the implausible impression my hypothesis might leave. Currently, I can do nothing more to authenticate my hypothesis. God willing, there will be a new and thorough investigation into the long-neglected and heartrending situation of so many people from so many countries, and so many children abandoned… For those who say that too much time has passed; that it isn’t worth the effort to “dig up the past,” I would reply in question:
Why would any amount of time be long enough to stop seeking the truth? Which year is the proper year to give up hope on someone you love?
Firstly, there have been, contrary to common perception, contacts, after the shootdown, of passengers with their families. The most dramatic and startling has recently come to our attention, though it occurred long ago...
Exhibit A: 14 years ago, we were informed by a mother of children who were passengers aboard KAL 007 that another women who was the wife of a passenger aboard KAL 007 had received a phone call from her husband shortly after the shootdown, but that the conversation had been immediately cut off. She supplied identifying information concerning this women and her husband, but we did not take any action to contact her. It is still hard for me to comprehend why I did not pursue the matter. It would have been possible, I think, to make a correlation with the passenger identity through the passenger manifest.
In any case, about a year ago, the Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007 Survivors received a letter from the daughter of a passenger and, about 2 months ago, a letter from the niece of this same passenger. The daughter told us the story of her mother telling the family when they were all young, that she had gotten a telephone call from her husband after the shootdown. The niece, further, added to the information that her aunt had sent the recording of the telephone call of her husband for voice analysis. These two girls were in their teens at the time. Now, of course, they are women in their thirties. It further became clear, from details that emerged, that the woman who had received the call was indeed, the woman whom we had heard about 14 years prior.
We finally made contact with the wife of the passenger, and after some initial hesitation in communicating, she finally opened up and related to us the following story. The call had come while she was out of the house and went on the answering machine. On returning home, she listened and heard her husband’s voice, but it was cut off almost immediately. She sent the tape to her lawyers who then had it sent to the “proper” governmental authority. The authorities decided that the voice on the tape was her husband’s, but that it was a “bleed through” of a previous conversation with him which had been taped over. She knew that this was not true for the simple reason that the tape in the answering machine was brand new—there had been no previous conversation! The voice said “We’ll be…” and the last word was cut off, but sounded like “home” or “up.” Still today, this woman castigates herself for not being home to receive the call, as precious seconds were wasted as her husband listened to the outgoing message on the answering machine.
Our main endeavor now is to get the original, or second best, copy of the recording. It would certainly help in reopening the case. But this woman was fairly traumatized by harsh opposition from various quarters that she received for the first year after she revealed the phone call.
This incident is very similar to another report the committee received—this time through a third party.
Exhibit B: “Several weeks after KAL 007 was shot down, I was listening to KGO Talk Radio in San Francisco... I was surprised to hear a young woman who called in to talk about the fate of KAL 007 announce that her close friend’s fiancé had been aboard. She went on to reveal that the fiancé had telephoned after the flight was downed by a soviet interceptor. He regretfully informed his fiancée that he was safe but that he was certain he would never see her again. Did any other passengers contact loved ones? After all these years, the voice of that young woman continues to haunt me. She sounded sincere and overwhelmed by the situation: “My husband was a POW who did not return from North Vietnam and the fate of the passengers of KAL 007 is as troubling as the abandonment of our POWs.”
To the two above reports, I will add four other reports that we consider credible but needing investigation, although these reports do not involve passenger contacts specifically to family members:
Exhibit C: Walter O’Reilly, President of Forget Me Not, the umbrella organization for various POW/MIA groups, the organization popularly associated with yellow flower distribution, reports that while on official business in the new Russian Federation, he was accosted at the steps of the former Lubyanka Central KGB prison by two men who surreptitiously said to him “We have your congressman.” O’Reilly’s response was a startled, “No, you don’t,” as he walked quickly away. He then realized that they must have meant Congressman Larry McDonald, who had been a passenger on KAL 007. He quickly returned to the steps but the men were gone.
Exhibit D: A Christian minister in Long Island, New York, reports that while visiting Russia he had contact with a Russian pastor who claimed that he had been imprisoned for his faith with a group of people whom he believed were the American contingent from KAL 007. They had arrived at the prison the same week as the shootdown. Initially clothed in Western civilian attire, they presently donned the normal prison uniform. This Russian pastor now lives on the west coast of the United States and still has contact with the Christian minister in Long Island, but refuses to say anything further about the matter fearing for the safety of his relatives in Russia and for his own safety in the United States. Certain individuals have circulated among the Russian émigrés in his area warning them with threats lest any of them speak about their prison experiences. The Russian pastor agreed to speak with me through a “voice disguiser” but then changed his mind.
Exhibit E: And then there is the strange and chilling tale of former Russian academician, David Stavitski, now residing in the United States. In an article published in Aleph, the Russian language US/Israeli publication (No. 606. 2-9 Nov.1995), Stavitski recounts that just three months after the shootdown of KAL 007, while in the process of preparing for a conference of college teachers in the field of the effects of psychotropic drugs during combat, he collaborated with a medical colonel named Kodumov. Their discussion led to the use of parapsychology in altering perception. Kodumov informed Stavitski of a program begun at Serbsky Institute near Moscow, which was later adapted at the Sverdlovsk Institute for an experimental program called “Adnure."1 Adnure was a program in which captured foreign national subjects were conditioned out of operating from their identities in order to become pliable agents of espionage to be returned to their home countries, responding in all ways as, for example, Americans, but faithful and obedient suppliers to their Soviet “handlers.”2 Kodumov informed Stavitski that he thought the KAL 007 passengers would be used for the Adnure program. What is startling is not that the KAL 007 passengers had been definitely placed at the Adnure project facility, but that a medical colonel associated with a scientific institute of the Soviet Union could suggest the real possibility of captured passengers of KAL 007 being found in such a horrendous program.
Exhibit F: Research by the Israeli Centre for Prisons, Psychprisons, and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the USSR, under the direction of Avraham Shifrin.3
This investigative body has determined, from heretofore unavailable information obtained and revealed at great risk, that: Congressman Larry McDonald was separated immediately from the other survivors, and taken to numerous high-security prisons and isolated locations throughout the Soviet Union, where he was constantly interrogated and often drugged. McDonald’s whereabouts can be traced throughout the Soviet Union from 1983 to 1990.4
Child Passengers were likely scattered in orphanages throughout the country. The history of two girls, Stacey and Noelle, from Rochester, New York, can be traced to an orphanage in Vladivostok. Noelle is known to have graduated from “Medical School 3,” a vocational high school in 1993.5
A Female Passenger was assigned to fell timber in Siberia, where she lost her arm in a work accident not long after the crash. Afterwards, she was sent to the extremely isolated town of Nakhodka, near the Arctic Circle. This procedure was common of the KGB, to relocate prisoners into seemingly normal, but incredibly isolated towns, in which the KGB placed agents or sponsored informants.6
Male Adult Passengers are believed to have been taken to three ultra-secret prison camps in the dense taiga region along the Amur River near the village of Zapokrovsk not far from the Chinese border, where American POWs were known to have been located. Some with aeronautical training are believed to have been taken to ultra-secret camps for foreign prisoners on Roger’s Bay, Wrangell Island in the Arctic Ocean.7
CONCLUSION: KAL-007 PROBABLY DITCHED SUCCESSFULLY, THERE MAY HAVE BEEN SURVIVORS, THE SOVIETS HAVE BEEN LYING MASSIVELY, AND DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS NEED TO BE MADE TO RETURN THE POSSIBLE SURVIVORS” (Republican Staff Study of 1991 (draft) of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations).
Where is the courageous Senator or Congressperson who is willing to initiate meaningful action and see it through? Who is strong enough to assert that alive or dead, we must know the whereabouts of our loved ones (and congress’ own colleague, Rep. Larry McDonald)? Where is that astute and persistent investigative reporter who will probe and probe and probe? Where is the outcry from a citizenry who will not let this rest until every single victim is brought home to his or her family, friends, and country? Where?
Bert Schlossberg International Director International Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007 Survivors www.Rescue007.org
1Serbsky Institute and Mental Hospital figuring in as a center for mind altering experiments receives startling confirmation from Emilia Cherkover, former Deputy of the Zelenograd Soviet and member of the Russian Federation Human Rights Commission. Cherkover maintains that, along with Vladivostok and Moscow prisons and the mental hospital in Oryal, microwave (psychotronic and electromagnetic application) experiments had been conducted on humans between 1989 and 1990 at Moscow’s Serbsky Institute.
2Adnure seems to be a type of Soviet espionage training facility commonly known as “charm schools”—but with a parapsychological input. The typical charm school operation is currently being popularized (and fictionalized) through a recent book, The Charm School, by Nelson Demille (New York: Warner Books, 1988).??
3This information comes mainly from the Israeli “Research Centre for Prisons, Psych-Prisons, and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the USSR,” Director- Avraham Shifrin. ?Our knowledge of the whereabouts of members of passengers and crew of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, shot down on August 31, 1983, is based primarily on information received by the Research Centre for Prisons, Psychprisons and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the USSR. This research center was established by the late Avraham Shifrin, an Israeli who had, himself, spent time in the Soviet prison camp system. As a major in the Red Army and prosecutor for the Krasnodar Region, northeast of the Crimea, he was responsible for sending many to the Gulags. After he himself was convicted on charges of spying for the US and Israel, he was sentenced to ten years on the harshest of prisons; then seven years of exile in Kazakhstan. Mr. Shifrin maintained an extensive network of contacts within the Soviet Union and its successor states. Much of the information that we have was obtained at great personal risk to his contacts.
The Centre’s investigations in 1989 to 1991 determined that the passengers and crew of KAL 007 were taken, upon rescue, to the KGB Coast Guard base on Sakhalin. Within a few days (by September 4, 1983), everyone was taken to the KGB base at Sovetskaja Gavan on the Siberian mainland opposite Sakhalin, roughly 600 miles north of Vladivostok. Here the men, women and children were divided into separate groups. The men and women were taken by train to Tynda on the Baikal-Amur Railway about 800 miles inland where at least some were put to forced labor. The male adults were, at some point, distributed to a number of different camps throughout Siberia some of which were camps thought also to hold American POWs and other foreign prisoners. These camps are identified as camps for foreigners by their total isolation and the lack of villages around them. Normally, when prisoners are released from prison camps they are required to continue living in exile near the prison. Their families join them and villages grow up around the camps. Foreign prisoners are not released; there are no villages around their prisons.
4Congressman Lawrence P. McDonald, Democrat, 7th District, Georgia, was separated from the rest of the passengers and taken by special air transport to Moscow on or about Sept. 8, 1983. A special KGB guard unit was brought from Khabarovsk to accompany him. The KGB had a fleet of special aircraft, the 910xx series that was used exclusively for transporting high-profile prisoners, VIPs, and others requiring the strictest security. These were used for even very short trips rather than using overland transportation.
The child passengers were kept in Sovetskaja Gavan in a specially established isolated temporary orphanage until the end of October. They were then gradually transferred to various orphanages in Vladivostok, Omsk and Barnaul, both near Novosibirsk, and Kazakhstan based on their racial identity. The intent was to assimilate them into the predominant racial populations in these areas.
Upon arrival in Moscow, McDonald was taken to the Lubyanka KGB prison where he was given the designation, “Prisoner Number 3.” While at the Lubyanka, he was kept in isolation, taken from his cell only for questioning. (The halls of Lubyanka are carpeted so that the footsteps of those being led away for questioning cannot be heard in the cells. Everyone is kept under constant observation through peepholes. Those who are allowed a bit of exercise are taken to small fenced in exercise yards on the roofs of the prison high above and invisible from the streets below). He was interrogated several times by the head of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov (Kryuchkov was a member of the core group, the “Gang of Eight,” who sought to seize power from Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. He was arrested when the coup failed but was later released. He attended the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin—at Mr. Putin’s personal invitation—in 2000. Mr. Kryuchkov is now an internationally known lecturer.). Following a number of questionings, Mr. McDonald was moved to the Lefortovo KGB prison also in Moscow for continued interrogation over a period of several months. In Lefortovo, prisoners were kept in cells that were artificially cooled to near freezing temperatures. These cells were about 1.5 meters on a side or roughly 4.5 feet. The dirt floors were submerged in water so that the prisoners either stood or lay down in mud. There might be a slanted bench against which the prisoner could lean with his feet against the opposite wall. After a time in Lefortovo, Mr. McDonald was then moved to a “dacha” (summer house) in Sukhanova near Moscow where the interrogations continued. Mr. Shifrin’s sources indicated that they had strong reason to believe that, while in Sukhanova, McDonald was interrogated under drugs that may have eventually resulted in identity loss. He was brought eventually to a prison in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, the region where the Soviets had important nuclear missile test ranges and similar installations. He may have been brought to this area to be interrogated by experts there as part of the effort to find out what he could say about the US nuclear program and what he knew about the Soviet program. Early in 1987, former NSA agent, Jerry Mooney, testified before Congress about the “Moscow Bound” program and the importance of Karaganda as a center of the Soviet nuclear program and an area where certain highly skilled American POWs with technical knowledge were brought. Following his testimony, the world press focused on this area. In an apparent attempt to keep McDonald’s presence there secret, he was moved in mid-1987, by special transport, to a small prison near the town of Temir-Tau, also in Kazakhstan. The wardens of this prison identified him from a photograph that had been computer-aged to show what he would have looked like at the time. It also showed a scar that runs from his left nostril to the left end of his lip.
Here he was given special treatment but was not allowed to communicate with anyone. In the summer of 1990, he was taken to the transportation prison in Karaganda. Here, as an unknown prisoner whose file is sealed by the KGB, he remained. As of 1995, all efforts to obtain additional information from the Karaganda prison have failed. The congressman’s present location is unknown—it may be there or he may have been moved since then.
5Child Passengers. Efforts to track down the children of KAL 007 have been very difficult. Many of the youngest ones were probably adopted into local families. Some information was obtained about two young Caucasian sisters; we believe they were the Grenfell children, Stacey and Noelle, ages 3 and 5, of Rochester, NY. It appears that they were placed in an orphanage in Vladivostok until 1990. The older child, at about 12, was sent to Medical School 3, a type of vocational high school, associated with the city hospital in Khabarovsk for training. The girl in question, whom we think is Noelle, graduated from there three years later then was taken elsewhere and her file removed from the school and hospital. At this point, her trail was lost. This information came from the director of the school.
6A Female Passenger. Sources provided information on one young Oriental woman who was set to work felling timber in the area of Tynda, Siberia. Prior to 1985, she lost her left arm below the elbow in a work accident. Subsequently, she was sent across the vast Siberian landmass to the extremely isolated village of Nakhodka on the Tazovskaya Guba (Inlet) above the Arctic Circle where she remained until sometime in the late summer of 1991 or 1992. By this time, she was married and had several children. This village consists of some 20-30 houses occupied by local fishermen and a few Russian exiles. The villagers live in sub-human conditions with almost no contact with the outside world. Winter lasts for most of the year and half the year is spent in Arctic darkness. The conditions are so gruesome that the villagers—few of whom speak Russian—care for nothing but survival and vodka. The villagers of Nakhodka thought that the woman was of indigenous Nenets origin because of her Oriental features. She did not mix with and was generally unknown to them. They were aware that she had been removed by men in authority. This may have been because the KGB had become aware of efforts by Avraham Shifrin and his Research Institute to locate the woman. He had tried to get his people to this village a year earlier, before she was moved, but promised funding to support the effort did not come through. By the time he was able to raise the necessary funds and recruit volunteers for this very dangerous mission, the woman was gone. An important point to note is that, even when prisoners were released for whatever reason, they were often sent to isolated villages such as Nakhodka. While apparently having freedom of movement, there was no escape from the pervasive KGB scrutiny. The Soviet KGB used local informants to control residents of such villages. The informants were in turn controlled by threats to the safety of family members who were taken into custody for just this purpose—to serve as “leverage.” The KGB would select trusted members of the community to be their informants. They would then test them by having someone utter anti-Soviet remarks in their presence. When an informant did not report such a remark to his KGB “handler”, he would be informed that members of his family would be deprived of food. If it happened again, they would be shot. Shifrin considered the ingenuity of the KGB to be both “diabolical and 100 per cent effective.” Even though the name has changed, the KGB is still as pervasive and powerful as ever, even though it may keep a lower profile. Russian President Vladimir Putin was with the KGB before entering into politics.
7Male Adult Passengers. Sources indicate that most of the male passengers and crew were taken to a series of three ultra-secret prison camps in the dense taiga region along the Amur River near the village of Zapokrovsk not far from the Chinese border. These are the same camps where American POWs were thought to have been located. They are quite extensive. In the winter, smoke can be seen rising from 80-90 smoke stacks—each barracks has two or three stoves, some 30 or more barrack houses. Unfortunately, all efforts to get to the camps and identify passengers visually failed because of the intense security in the area. Additional camps were in the area of Chita, headquarters of the Far East Theater of Operations of the Soviet military, at Nercinsk, Nercinski Zavod and other locations. At the time, there were also three other ultra-secret camps for foreign prisoners on Roger’s Bay, Wrangell Island in the Arctic Ocean. Mr. Shifrin had reason to believe that some of the passengers and, especially the crew, may have been taken to Wrangell because of their aeronautical training. These camps have since been abandoned and all inmates moved elsewhere