WASHINGTON — A former Marine guard at the U.S. Consulate in Leningrad has released photos showing Soviet women at a Marine Corps ball and acknowledged he fraternized with--and later married--a Russian.
Rodney Pope said despite the fact that rules against fraternization with Soviet women were stressed continually by superiors, he actively courted his future wife, whom he married in 1985, three years after he left the Soviet Union.
"We had to sign a statement saying you understand what the order (against fraternization) means, which is anything other than casual contact," Pope said in an interview Wednesday.
"It was accepted for us to dance with Russian women in a public place . . . but actually going out with somebody, being alone with somebody, was against the rule."
The Marine guards were well aware of the rule, and for that reason, Pope, who was a sergeant, said he kept a low profile on his relationship with his future wife, Elena.
"None of them knew I was going to go back and get married to anybody," he said.
Asked whether his fellow Marines at the consulate from December, 1981, to December, 1982, were aware of the couple's relationship, Pope said, "Possibly." Asked if he was giving that answer because he didn't want to get the others in trouble, he repeated, "Possibly."
He said Monday morning on NBC-TV's "Today" show that he had called the FBI "and told them I wanted to talk to them, and they don't seem to be in too much of a hurry to speak to me."
The FBI contacted him Monday afternoon and scheduled an interview with him for tonight, he said.
Asked what he wants to tell the FBI, Pope said: "I just want to make sure my name stays clean. I fraternized and they know it. I married a Russian woman. But that's it.
"The only reason I fraternized was because I fell in love before I realized I was falling in love," he said. "I didn't want to turn myself in and leave her. I'd get in trouble and she'd get in trouble. I figured if they caught me, they'd slap my hand and send me out, and that's all."
Pope maintained that he was never approached by the KGB.
"If the Soviets would have approached me and tried to blackmail me, I would have turned myself in," said Pope, who added that the fraternization rule should be abolished.
"If we didn't have the fraternization rule, there wouldn't be anything to blackmail somebody with," he said. "It puts undue stress on the Marines."