A former Soviet soldier’s testimony that he met four American POWs in 1951 may be the first evidence that Korean War-era servicemen were held in the Soviet Union, investigators said Wednesday.
Members of a 3-year-old Russian-U.S. commission searching for traces of Soviet-era POWs told a news conference that the soldier’s testimony could be a breakthrough.
The panel long ago dismissed any hopes that American POWs could still be alive in the former Soviet Union, and the announcement did not change that. Instead, the commission is searching for the remains of servicemen and trying to clarify the circumstances of their deaths.
The commission’s Russian co-chairman, historian Dmitry Volkogonov, told a news conference that the former soldier, Vladimir Trotsenko, reported having met the U.S. servicemen in a military hospital near Arsenyev, in the Russian Far East.
Trotsenko also said he had seen the grave of a fifth American in the hospital cemetery.
Volkogonov said the testimony was confirmed by other evidence and seemed highly trustworthy. He said the captured Americans could be the crew of a U.S. bomber downed by the Soviets on Nov. 6, 1951, near Vladivostok.
“If these really were Americans, it’s unclear what happened to them afterwards,” he said.