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Watergate's final secret... how Brezhnev backed comrade Tricky Dicky

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1707342007 Watergate s final secret... how Brezhnev backed comrade Tricky Dicky BARRY SCHWEID A MAN in crisis may find
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2007
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      http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1707342007

      Watergate's final secret... how Brezhnev backed
      comrade Tricky Dicky
      BARRY SCHWEID

      A MAN in crisis may find some unlikely friends, but
      few would expect comforting words from their
      nuclear-armed arch-enemy.

      However, as the Watergate scandal enveloped Richard
      Nixon, the then United States president, in the 1970s,
      he received a secret message of support from Leonid
      Brezhnev, the Soviet leader at the time, it emerged
      yesterday.

      The message, delivered by then Soviet ambassador
      Anatoly Dobrynin, stated: "No doubt, there are some
      people - not only in the US - who anticipate Richard
      Nixon won't be able to take it and will crack under
      the pressure. But, we are pleased to note, you have no
      intention of giving them that satisfaction."

      In response, Mr Nixon said he wished to thank Mr
      Brezhnev "for the fact that he, perhaps alone among
      the leaders of other nations, including the allies,
      had found simple human words to lift his spirits", Mr
      Dobrynin wrote in documents which have now been
      released by the US State Department.

      At first, Moscow paid little attention to Watergate,
      but as the scandal of the 1972 break-in at the
      Democratic Party offices focused on Mr Nixon, concern
      grew in the Politburo that it could hamper any
      improvement in US-Soviet relations.

      "One began to sense [Mr Nixon's] growing bewilderment,
      lack of confidence and withdrawal from other matters,"
      Mr Dobrynin wrote.

      The ambassador was instructed to secretly meet Mr
      Nixon to deliver the message of support.

      Mr Brezhnev clearly thought Mr Nixon was someone he
      could do business with. The then US president was
      opposed to brinkmanship in dealing with the Soviet
      Union, Mr Dobrynin reported to Moscow in 1969.

      The State Department documents portray Mr Nixon as not
      counting on the use of force in dealings with the
      Soviet Union.

      According to a telegram Mr Dobrynin sent to Moscow,
      sizing up the president, differences were too deep to
      bridge completely. But, Mr Dobrynin told the Soviet
      Foreign Ministry, "the president is opposed to
      brinkmanship in relations with the USSR, since he
      believes both our countries have sufficient nuclear
      missiles to annihilate each other many times over."

      By all indications, Mr Dobrynin told Moscow, Mr Nixon
      "will pursue a pragmatic course that envisages
      negotiations with the Soviet Union in cases where it
      serves US interests and it is possible to compromise".

      Agreements to ban biological weapons and to limit the
      arsenals of long-range missiles are among the
      understandings that emerged from the complicated
      US-Soviet relationship.

      Also, an agreement was forged in 1971 between the two
      superpowers, Britain and France to reduce tensions
      over then-divided Berlin.

      However, Mr Nixon also sent a carrier fleet into the
      Indian Ocean in December 1971 to warn the Soviets to
      restrain their ally, India, in the war with Pakistan
      which created Bangladesh from East Pakistan.

      Historian David Geyer, the principal US compiler of
      the documents, said yesterday that they reflected "an
      unprecedented partnership between the two governments
      to document an exchange of views at a high level,
      particularly at an important period of the Cold War".

      He added: "The documents also give readers and
      scholars a different view on foreign policy from the
      perspective of the other superpower."
      BREAK-IN THAT FORCED PRESIDENT FROM OFFICE

      ON 17 June, 1972, five men were arrested after
      breaking into the Democratic National Committee
      headquarters situated in the office and hotel complex
      called the Watergate. It was the start of one of the
      biggest political scandals in American history and led
      to the resignation of US president Richard Nixon.

      Investigations into the break-in revealed it was just
      one instance in a long line of illegal activities
      conducted on behalf of Mr Nixon and his staff.

      The investigative coverage by the press was
      spearheaded by two reporters on the Washington Post,
      Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who received tip-offs
      from an anonymous source known as ''Deep Throat''. He
      suggested knowledge of the break-in and attempts to
      cover it up could be linked to the White House.

      After two years of investigation, it emerged the
      president had recorded conversations which showed he
      obstructed justice and attempted to cover up the
      break-in. The US Supreme Court ruled the tapes be
      handed over. With the certainty of impeachment and
      conviction in the Senate, Mr Nixon became the only US
      president to resign on 9 August, 1974.
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