Lee Harvey Oswald called the KGB department in charge of 'sabotage and assassination' before killing JFK

  • The CIA intercepted a phone call from Lee Harvey Oswald to the KGB’s department in charge of “sabotage and assassination” before murdering John F. Kennedy.
  • Oswald had tried to defect to the Soviet Union years earlier, but was denied citizenship.
  • The CIA does not conclude that Oswald killed Kennedy on the KGB’s instructions.


Newly released documents from the CIA
show that the spy agency intercepted a phone call from Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy’s assassin, to the KGB department in Moscow that handled “sabotage and assassinations.”

Just over a month before Oswald assassinated Kennedy on November 22, the CIA intercepted a phone call he made to Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov.

The CIA identifies Kostikov as an officer in the KGB’s 13th department, which is “responsible for sabotage and assassination.”

Oswald asked Kostikov if there was “anything new concerning the telegram to Washington,” and Kostikov told him there was not.

The telegram mentioned, though not explained in the CIA document, likely had something to do with Oswald’s 1959 attempt to defect to Russia by travelling to Moscow. Russia denied his bid for citizenship but allowed him to stay in the country.

The CIA document does not conclude that Oswald acted against Kennedy on Russian instructions or with help from the KGB.

Peter Savodnik, author of “The Interloper: Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union,” told the Atlantic in 2013 that Oswald, who joined the US Marine Corps at 17, had moved with his mother 20 times during his childhood likely sought to live in Moscow to gain some feeling of permanence.

Savodnik maintains that instead of grooming Oswald as a potential agent against Moscow’s rivals in Washington, they sent him to live hundreds of miles away in Minsk because it was “sleepy and boring and quiet.”

Here’s how to read the new trove of previously-classified documents on JFK’s assassination.

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