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

Recent Revelations About
Soviet Active Measures

Manipulation of the Russian Orthodox Church
& the World Council of Churches:
How "Black," "Gray," and "White"
Active Measures Worked Together

One particularly cynical aspect of Soviet active measures operations was the way in which the atheist Soviet authorities exploited the Russian Orthodox Church and other official religious institutions in the USSR in order to bolster Soviet foreign policy by appealing to religious sentiments in the noncommunist world. The Soviet government's Council on Religious Affairs and the KGB were the instruments of Soviet control of these religious groups.

CPSU active measures operations apparently took priority in the Church's activities over more traditional church functions. For example, issue number 6 of Moscow News in 1992 reported that the foreign relations department of the Russian Orthodox Church employed more than one hundred people, whereas the charities and educational departments were staffed by only a dozen each. The article also referred to "well-substantiated allegations that the present Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev [a prominent church leader] is a KGB agent bearing the code name "Antonov."

Metropolitan Pitirim, head of the Church's publications department, was also identified as a KGB agent by Vyacheslav Polosin, chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet's Committee on Denominations and Freedom of Religion, in the January 21, 1992 issue of the Russian newspaper Megapolis Ekspress.

Polosin also alleged that, in 1983, in part due to the efforts of a KGB network within the World Council of Churches (WCC), Emilio Castro was elected as that organization's General Secretary. A KGB document cited by Polosin described Castro as "a candidate acceptable to us."

In 1987, the State Department's report on Soviet Influence Activities: A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda, 1986-1987 made these comments about Soviet efforts to influence the World Council of Churches through Russian Orthodox Church officials and through the Christian Peace Conference, a Soviet-controlled international front organization. It specifically mentioned that WCC General Secretary Castro's views had been a factor in the WCC's "receptivity" to Soviet initiatives:

During the 1960s and 1970s, the WCC's focus shifted away from traditional ecumenical dialogue toward policy stands on contemporary social and political issues, some of which paralleled Soviet stands. Soviet church officials have been increasingly active in encouraging WCC support for policy lines that the USSR also supports, and for using its fora for presenting official Soviet views. In part, the WCC's receptivity is due to its leadership. WCC General Secretary Emilio Castro is an advocate of liberation theology who was exiled from Uruguay for his links to leftist organizations.

The WCC sometimes sponsors organizations or activities that have some form of affiliation with Soviet front organizations. On occasion, the WCC works with the Christian Peace Conference [CPC] or its affiliates to encourage foreign governments to remove U.S. military bases.

The Christian Peace Conference works assiduously to influence WCC rhetoric and actions. In preparation for the 1983 WCC General Assembly in Vancouver, Canada, a conference of Christian women met in Kiev in April 1983. The women were instructed on how to coordinate their activities in Vancouver with the CPC and the Russian Orthodox Church delegation. The result was the defeat of a pending resolution demanding an immediate Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Russian Orthodox and CPC representatives argued successfully that if the General Assembly voted to condemn the invasion, the East European women and Soviet clergy would not be permitted to attend future WCC meetings. For similar reasons the WCC declined to take note of or act on messages from persecuted East European Christians at the same gathering. (Democracies Under Strain, Institute for the Public Interest, No. 3, June 1986).

WCC representatives have cooperated with the preeminent Soviet front, the World Peace Council, in hosting a nongovernmental organization symposium on "World Peace and the Liberation of South Africa and Namibia" at the WCC headquarters in Geneva, June 11-13, 1986.

WCC headquarter's support for radical leftist and/or violent movements in the Third World has already caused considerable controversy with member churches, particularly over the open funding of South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) in Namibia and the African National Congress. (p. 12)

The activities of the Russian Orthodox Church were supervised by department four (specializing in ecclesiastical matters) of the KGB Fifth Directorate, which monitored "ideological" issues. Father Gleb Yakunin is vice Chairman of a Russian parliamentary commission that has investigated the activities of the KGB, and, as a clergyman, took a special interest in documents relating to Church affairs. In the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, issue number one in January 1992, Yakunin described verbatim excerpts from KGB documents that described their efforts to influence the policies of the World Council of Churches. They provide an insider's look at the decades-long Soviet campaign to manipulate an important, prestigious, and influential world organization.


At meetings of the Executive Committee and of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in September in Crete, agents "Svyatoslav," "Voronov," "Antonov" and others condemned the aggressive acts of the U.S.A. in Vietnam and of Israel in the Middle East. The Russian Orthodox Church delegation voted against the resolutions on Vietnam and the Middle East put forward by representatives of churches in the West, and called for a debate on the situation of the blacks in the U.S.A.

August 1969

Our agents succeeded in promoting the agent "Kuznetsov" to a leading position in the World Council of Churches.

In March 1992, Yakunin visited the United States and distributed other materials describing the KGB's efforts to manipulate the World Council of Churches. The following are verbatim excerpts from these KGB documents:

August 1969    line 204

Agents "Svyatoslav," "Adamant," "Altar," "Magister," "Roshchin," and "Zemnogorskiy" went to England for participation in the work of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. The agency [KGB] managed to thwart hostile activities, and agent "Kuznetsov" managed to penetrate the WCC directorate.

February 1972    line 90

Agents "Svyatoslav" and "Mikhailov" went to New Zealand and Australia for sessions of the Central Committee of the WCC.

July 1983    line 191

47 agents of the KGB organs among religious authorities, clergy, and technical personnel from the USSR delegation were sent to Vancouver (Canada) for the 6th WCC General Assembly.

July 1989    line 233

In accordance with a plan authorized by the leadership of the KGB of the USSR, agency-operative and organizational measures were undertaken for ensuring state security in the period of preparations for and conduct of measures during the meeting of the World Council of Churches in Moscow, in which more than 500 foreign religious activists took place. Eight declarations and 3 messages corresponding to the political line of the socialist countries were adopted as a result of measures rendered by the executive committee and central committee of the WCC.

The July 25-31, 1989 issue of the Soviet magazine New Times had mentioned the WCC meeting in Moscow. It noted that "the bulk of technical arrangements ... has been placed in the hands of Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Byelorussia [a different person than Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev and Galicia] .... 11 Filaret of Minsk was chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for Foreign Church Relations. He has also been revealed as a prominent member of the KGB's network in the Russian Orthodox Church. In Argumenty i Fakty issue number 8 of 1992 in February, A. Shushpanov, a former staff member of the Foreign Church Relations Department who worked as a KGB agent, stated that the Metropolitan was the only church member authorized to receive his reports:

The KGB required us to submit reports on when and where foreigners would drop in for visits, whether to a store, the toilet, or whatever. A report was submitted in five copies, one of which went to the desk of the Foreign Church Relations Department chairman [Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Byelorussia]; the second copy went to the Council on Religious Affairs [the governmental body that oversaw religious affairs], which was, in essence, a branch of the KGB; and the remaining copies were transmitted directly to the KGB.

The Metropolitan made some comments for the New Times article in which he revealed his enthusiasm for some of the main slogans of "new political thinking:"

"The conference is going to become another evidence of the moral and intellectual consolidation of the Christian world in the face of a wide range of threats to humanity - from the threat of war to that of an ecological disaster. The World Council of Churches has never kept away from politics, in some instances it even went ahead of the foreign policy departments of various countries in carrying out certain peace initiatives," says Metropolitan Filaret. (p. 45)

The Metropolitan also told New Times that he was planning to include a "special seminar on perestroika in the Soviet Union" in the WCC's deliberations.

The Soviet active measures apparatus then used the proceedings of the WCC Moscow conference as grist for media placements worldwide. For example, soon after the meeting, an article in the August 19, 1989 issue of the Nigerian newspaper Daily Star entitled "Perestroika Surveyed" mentioned the WCC conference and specifically its session on perestroika:

The [Russian Orthodox] Church is taking up its role as a partner in the new dialogue brought about by perestroika, according to Russian Orthodox Archbishop Kirill of Smolensk.

A major reason it has been able to do so, Kirill told a forum on perestroika during the meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches is "that many of our theologians and church leaders have gone through the 'school of the WCC.'"

Kirill, a WCC Executive Committee member, ... said that for many years much of what the WCC talked about "seemed strange, alien to our interests. Now, however, the agenda of the WCC is also our agenda."

Another apparent Soviet media placement in the same issue of the Daily Star illustrated how the Soviet active measures apparatus could use meetings such as the WCC conference to propagate its themes without once mentioning Soviet involvement in the conference or Soviet influence on it. The article, "Biotechnology Problems Probed," described how WCC Central Committee members had recently been treated to a special "deliberative session," ostensibly designed to alert them to "emerging issues of biotechnology," without mentioning that this complex issue was slanted in an anti-Western direction, and included many themes favored by Soviet active measures specialists. Thus, the session warned about allegedly dire new threats to the Third World from volatile and dangerous biotechnology products that might be dumped there by industrialized countries, as well as the supposed threat that industrial countries might impoverish Third World economies by creating synthetic substitutes that would eliminate the market for Third World agricultural commodities. The session went so far as to resurrect the old Soviet disinformation campaign about an "ethnic weapon," which supposedly would selectively target members of non-white races. No such weapon exists, of course.

According to the article, one Sri Lankan delegate to the WCC meeting thanked the session organizers for "shocking me out of my complacency."

The Daily Star article stated:

A description of recent developments in biology and genetics, interspersed with case studies and scenarios of the impact that applications of these are having or might have on people, offered members of the WCC Central Committee a broad and sobering introduction to emerging issues of biotechnology in the first of four "deliberative plenary sessions" at their meeting last month.

The deliberative session was thus meant to open up a major area of contemporary social ethical, ecological and ideological concern and to elicit an initial round of reactions from Central Committee members. One of those responding during the discussions, Annathale -bayasekera [first litter of last name illegible] (Anglican, Sri Lanka), thanked the presenters for "shocking me out of my complacency."

...citing a warning by distinguished scientists that a careless use of genetic engineering "could lead to irreversible, devastating damage to the ecology," the presentation noted that "the biotechnology industry is preparing to release scores of genetically engineered viruses, bacteria, plant strains and 'transgenic animals' into the environment in the next few years."

...Concern was expressed that without international laws regarding such release, Third World countries will become the dumping place for these materials, just as they are often the destination of toxic wastes whose disposal is illegal in the industrialized countries where they are created.

"A new and frightening arms race" was how the presentation described the military applications of genetic engineering. Not only does the application of recent discoveries make possible the production of great quantities of biological warfare agent in a short time, but it also permits the creation of horrifying new substances. Scientists have spoken of the possibility of cloning 'selective toxins' that affect specific racial or ethnic groups who are predisposed to certain diseases.

Apparently more benign uses of biotechnology - in producing high yields of agricultural products like vanilla bean, palm oil or coconuts - may have serious economic consequences for farmers in the Third World. According to the presentation, each of the "many thousands of flavors, fragrances, dyes, nutrients and pharmaceuticals derived from plants grown in the Third World ... is a potential target of biotechnology research and production."

Replacing plant-derived products with laboratory developed substitutes could have a devastating effect on the market for products now estimated to bring in as much as U.S. $10,000 million a year.

Thus, the presence of KGB agents of influence and Soviet-controlled fronts such as the Christian Peace Conference within the World Council of Churches made it possible to arrange the presentation of "scientific" papers at WCC conferences that used disinformation, distortions, and carefully constructed "concerns" to stimulate anti-Western sentiments among Third World clerics. In the case above, this was done in the name of a supposed outcry of conscience by unnamed "distinguished scientists" and subsequently publicized in an unattributed fashion by the Soviet active measures apparatus as if the article was simply reporting in a straightforward way the concerns of the hierarchy of the World Council of Churches.

Thus, the "black" (KGB), "gray" (Christian Peace Conference), and "white" (Novosti Press Agency) elements of the Soviet active measures apparatus worked together, weaving a seamless web that first planted and then spread the messages of Soviet active measures specialists, while obscuring their role in orchestrating this campaign from start to finish. This type of scenario was repeated by Soviet active measures specialists literally hundreds of times. The organizations varied tremendously, as did the themes, which were chosen for their appeal to certain target audiences. But the purposes remained the same: to stimulate anti-Western or pro-Soviet sentiments that would ultimately rebound to Soviet advantage.

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