Accessibility links

Breaking News

Oswald In Minsk: Belarusians Who Knew Lee Harvey Oswald Tell Their Stories

RFE/RL Exclusive: Those Who Knew Lee Harvey Oswald In Minsk Tell Their Stories
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:08:03 0:00
If you want to know who Lee Harvey Oswald was, you should also know where he was.

For more than two years in the early 1960s, the capital of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was Oswald's home. To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, RFE/RL conducted exclusive interviews with three people who knew Oswald, his presumed assassin, during his time in Minsk. It is the first time the interviewees -- including Stanislau Shushkevich, the first post-Soviet leader of Belarus -- have appeared on camera to tell their stories.

Inna Markava met Oswald at a philharmonic concert hall in Minsk and socialized with him on a number of occasions. Inessa Yakhliel was a friend of Oswald's wife, Marina, and knew them as young parents before they traveled to the United States. Shushkevich worked on product design at the same radio factory as Oswald. The revelation that he was Oswald's Russian teacher was remarked upon in a U.S. diplomatic cable in 1992 that can viewed on the National Security Agency's website.

Markava (under her maiden name, Pisenka) and Yakhliel are mentioned in Norman Mailer's 1995 book, "Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery." In the early 1990s, Mailer was given unique access to Oswald's KGB files and conducted extensive interviews with many of those who surrounded the American defector.

RFE/RL Belarus Service Director Alexander Lukashuk, who arranged RFE/RL's interviews, was very familiar with the subject of Oswald and those who surrounded him in Minsk. He spoke extensively with Mailer before the American writer died and used that material in his 2011 book (available only in Belarusian), "Trace of the Butterfly."

Lukashuk was also a researcher on the "Frontline" documentary by PBS, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?"

RFE/RL producers conducted interviews with Shushkevich, Markava, and Yakhliel in late October. Excerpts of those interviews are included in RFE/RL's exclusive video report "Lee Harvey Oswald: Belarusians Who Knew Him In Minsk Tell Their Stories."

To read the full transcripts of those interviews click on the photos below.

Stanislau Shushkevich: 'I Never Saw Oswald Get Excited About Anything'

Inna Markava: Oswald 'Enjoyed Being At The Center Of Attention'

Inessa Yakhliel: Oswald 'Spoke About Kennedy Very Sympathetically'

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.