Soviet Active Measures in The
'Post-Cold War' Era 1988-1991

Recent Revelations About
Soviet Active Measures

"Gray" or Semi-covert Active Measures

Recent revelations in the Soviet press have shed light on the role the CPSU CC International Department played in coordinating "gray" active measures operations, which included the activities of Soviet-allied communist parties, Soviet-controlled international front organizations, and Soviet nongovernmental organizations that played a role in foreign affairs, particularly friendship societies, the foreign policy-related institutes of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and the Soviet affiliates of the international front groups.

On February 11, 1992 Izvestia reported some of the results of the Russian prosecutor's investigation of the financial activity of the CPSU. It stated:

Since 1981, financial assistance was being provided to 98 parties and movements on all continents: 23 of them in Europe, 31 in North and South America, 16 in Asia, 27 in Africa, and to Australian communists. There were "favorites" among them. The number one among the latter were French communists: $24 million during the past 10 years; next came the communists in the United States - million; Finland - 16.6 million; Portugal - 9.5 million; Chile - $6 million; Lebanon - $5.2 million, and India - $5.1 million. Frequently, in the same country several political organizations were on the CPSU's payroll at the same time. For instance, in Chile the money was divided between the communist, workers-peasant, socialist, and radical parties.

...In order to provide carefree existence for the "ideological fighters," a special international fund was set up. Formally, it existed on contributions from East European parties: the CPSU, Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, and Bulgarian and Czechoslovak communists. However, the participation of our socialist camp comrades was minimal; their joint efforts barely produced $2.5 million. The CPSU, however, did things on a grand scale: its annual contribution to the collective Peggy bank was between $15 million and $22 million a year.

...the leaders of the parties and movements especially favored by Old Square [the headquarters of the CPSU CC] would send touching letters to the CPSU CC.... At times, the arguments used were quite unexpected.

...General Secretary of the Communist Party of El Salvador: "Due to expansion of our military forces, and increased procurement of uniforms, food, and medical supplies for our partisan groups, our expenses have increased."

...South West African People's Organization [SWAPO] leaders in Namibia: "Our party was only able to function in the last few years thanks to the CPSU's assistance."

Probably the most frank among these requests were those from the Israeli communists, who simply wrote that they needed money because: "To pay our party functionaries a salary of less than $3,000 a month is simply inhumane."

...This document (on CPSU funding of foreign parties], being of an especially delicate nature, was considered in an unusual way - in the apparat jargon, it was "sent round:" it was secretly brought to the office of each Politburo member where he, without anyone else present, had to write his opinion: for or against. During the past 15 years, there had been no dissent on this subject, however.

In further documentary evidence, on February 29, 1992, the Washington Post published a picture of a receipt for two million dollars in CPSU funds, dated March 14, 1987, signed by Gus Hall, head of the Communist Party of the United States.

The parties funded by the CPSU, as part of the its active measures apparatus, organized demonstrations, held meetings, printed publications, engaged in subversive actions, and otherwise engaged in political and military activities in their countries in an effort to help achieve the goals of Soviet foreign policy.

During the late 1980s, Alexander Yakovlev was the CPSU CC Secretary in charge of supervising International Department operations, including the funding of foreign communist parties. On February 17, 1992, Izvestia reported Yakovlev's remarks on this issue:

In 18 months, he said, Yakovlev managed to achieve a reduction in appropriations for these fine purposes from about $25 million a year to approximately $12 million and, if he had had his way, he would have stopped these illegal payments altogether. But he did not manage to do that; he could not overcome the blank resistance from the well-tuned system which had been functioning for decades.

Direct Soviet funding of foreign communist parties was only one way in which the CPSU supported these parties. CPSU documents released on June 5, 1992 revealed that in 1969 the USSR sold 600,000 tons of oil at privileged rates to an Italian company for $4 billion, some of which was later transferred to the Italian Communist Party. Thus, the CPSU had many ways to financially support foreign communists or other allies.

On January 7, 1992 an article in Izvestia illuminated the role played by one Soviet "nongovernmental" organization, the Soviet Committee for Solidarity with Asian and African Countries, in active measures operations. This "public" organization acted as a transmission belt for Soviet policies in the "people-to-people" realm. Izvestia wrote:

The Soviet Committee for Solidarity with Asian and African Countries (SCSAAC) held a special place in the structure of the now defunct totalitarian system's foreign policy service. The hackneyed, semi-literate title concealed a Central Committee-KGB subunit which had links with dozens of countries in Africa and Asia. This was portrayed as the Soviet public's contacts with the public in that part of the "Third World." But the label concealed something quite different.

All the organizational work was conducted by an apparatus of specialist functionaries. They were appointed by the CPSU Central Committee and strictly toed the party line. As for foreign partners, ... they dealt with kindred organizations, parties, and governments (often maintained by Soviet money) and all this was done exclusively for the purpose of coordinating steps in the joint march toward the radiant future and developing the anti-imperialist (for which read anti-U.S.) struggle.

The committee performed not only communications functions but also provided covert financing from a special Central Committee fund and supplied weapons to various detachments of the "national liberation movement."

...Its track record shows many years of support for the African National Congress, the essentially tyrannical Mengistu regime in Ethiopia, and totalitarian dictatorships in Libya, Uganda, and Equatorial Guinea. ...The list could go on and on. ...the SCSAAC did not once act in defense of violated civil rights and freedoms, flouted democracy, or manifestations of totalitarianism. It had more important business - strengthening contacts with its friends in the common cause.

Even during the years of perestroika the committee remained true to itself and continued the line of its beloved Central Committee. ...And then, holding out until the very last moment, the committee, instead of disbanding itself and disappearing ingloriously from the public arena, performed an ungainly somersault and reappeared as ... the Russian society for Solidarity and Cooperation with the Peoples of Asia and Africa.

It is legitimate to ask: Why is it necessary to legalize one of the most odious ideological institutions of the old era? Is it really enough just to change the name and leave the functionaries, convenient sinecure untouched?

The SCSAAC was one of the 10-15 major Soviet "public organizations" that worked to achieve Soviet foreign policy goals in the "people-to-people" realm. Each of these Soviet "nongovernmental" organizations also acted as the core member of a supposedly independent but actually Soviet-controlled international front group that the Soviets had set up as a disguised instrument through which they pursued their foreign policy aims. In this way, the SCSAAC acted as a conduit for Soviet control in the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization, headquartered in Cairo, which had 91 affiliates in different countries. The activities of this group and its affiliates were orchestrated by Moscow. The Soviets controlled similar national and international groups organized around the areas of women, youth, peace, scientists, lawyers, journalists, trade unions, students, teachers, physicians, and religion. This system of Soviet-controlled and -influenced front groups provided a powerful means for influencing attitudes and political systems worldwide through "people-to-people" channels.

An examination of the archives of the International Department would shed light on how it controlled, manipulated, and influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations worldwide. When the CPSU CC archives were opened to the public in March 1992, however, access to ID archives less than 30 years old was banned under a newly devised secrecy rule. The Russian leaders were apparently not ready to reveal the story of the recent Soviet manipulation of foreign communist and leftist parties and control of a panoply of international front groups. Many of these continue to operate in the international arena.

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