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Americans to Replace 100 Soviet Workers at U.S. Embassy

December 13, 1985|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The United States will replace about half of the 200 Soviet employees in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as an initial step in tightening security there, the State Department announced Thursday.

Spokesman Charles Redman, asked about a report in The Times on Wednesday on the elimination of local employees at the Moscow post in response to congressional pressure, said the department already has moved to replace about 100 Soviet citizens with American workers.

Redman said at a news conference that the department also has requested funds to hire U.S. citizens at other Eastern European embassies, although replacement of locally hired employees there would not be as extensive.

The announcement followed U.S. allegations last summer that the Soviet KGB security police was using a potentially cancer-causing chemical, widely known as "spy dust," to keep track of U.S. diplomats in Moscow.

"These measures are costly, but they will decrease the risk of hostile penetration of our embassy," Redman said.

Soviet citizens have worked in "support positions," such as chauffeurs, mechanics, guards and cleaners but have no access to classified information and are excluded from areas of the embassy where classified material is processed, he said.

Replacing these employees with Americans will require additional housing for both the workers and their families--something difficult to provide in Moscow, he noted.

Redman said this will require modification of plans for the new U.S. Embassy now under construction, necessitating some delay in carrying out the policy.

"I can't give you any idea of the timetable," he said.

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