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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia hands over papers on POWs

The Russian head of a joint commission searching for missing American soldiers gave the American side documents Thursday about airmen whose planes were shot down over Soviet airspace during the Cold War.

At a press conference culminating four days of meetings. General Dmitry Volkogonov gave former U. S. Ambassador Malcolm Toon a two-inch thick dossier containing interrogation reports of the Americans.

Toon and Volkogonov are co-chairmen of a Russian-American commission established in March to search for information about missing American soldiers in the former Soviet Union.

At a meeting with President Boris Yeltsin Wednesday, Toon and U. S. Ambassador Robert Strauss received documents about two Americans who were executed in Soviet camps in the 1940s and telegrams exchanged between Stalin and Mao Tsetung concerning American POWs during the Korean War.

"The most significant statement in those documents was Stalin's statement that for every American POW liberated, at least 20 percent would be held back", Toon said.

Volkogonov described the two executed men -- identified only by their surnames, Oggens and Clifford -- as "victims of the Stalin regime. They had no chance to be freed, because they knew many things about Soviet prisons. That's why they were liquidated".

Oggens was arrested in 1939 and served eight years after being convicted of spying. "There is no evidence that he was a spy", Volkogonov said. The commission located Oggen's grave, witnesses and documents about his case, he said, but no details were disclosed this week to reporters.

Clifford also served eight years in prison for espionage and was supposed to be released upon the request of the American Embassy, but was also executed, Volkogonov said.

"The KGB told the American Embassy he died following an illness, but I don't think so", Volkogonov said. Both men are believed to have been civilians.

Toon told reporters that the commission sent a two-man team to a Russian village Wednesday and "came back empty handed" after searching for David Marken, a Korean War pilot who was the focus of a search in the Urals in June.

Toon said the commission also sent researchers to St. Petersburg this week to investigate archives there.

Concerning the meeting with the Russian president, Toon said, "He agreed he would have a definitive answer on the question of American POWs by the end of October".