Active measures

Wayback Machine KGB Ion Mihai Pacepa
Active measures
Russianактивные мероприятия
RomanizationActive measures
IPA[needs Russian IPA]

Active measures (Russian: активные мероприятия, romanizedaktivnye meropriyatiya) is a term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Soviet and Russian security services (Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, KGB, FSB) to influence the course of world events, in addition to collecting intelligence and producing "politically correct" assessments of it.[1] Active measures range "from media manipulations to special actions involving various degrees of violence". Beginning in the 1920s,[2] they were used both abroad and domestically. They included disinformation, propaganda, counterfeiting official documents, assassinations, and political repression, such as penetration into churches, and persecution of political dissidents.[1]

Active measures includes the establishment and support of international front organizations (e.g. the World Peace Council); foreign communist, socialist and opposition parties; wars of national liberation in the Third World; and underground, revolutionary, insurgency, criminal, and terrorist groups.[1] The intelligence agencies of Eastern Bloc states also contributed to the program, providing operatives and intelligence for assassinations and other types of covert operations.[1]

Retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin, former Head of Foreign Counter Intelligence for the KGB (1973-1979), described active measures as "the heart and soul of Soviet intelligence": "Not intelligence collection, but subversion: active measures to weaken the West, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs."[3]

Active measures was a system of special courses taught in the Andropov Institute of the KGB situated at SVR headquarters in Yasenevo, near Moscow. The head of the "active measures department" was Yuri Modin, former controller of the Cambridge Five spy ring.[1]

Active measures have continued in the post-Soviet era in Russia. In testimony before the United States Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the U.S. policy response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Victoria Nuland, former US Ambassador to NATO referred to herself as "a regular target of Russian active measures."[4][5]


As early as 1923, the Soviets created a Special Disinformation Office on a personal initiative of Joseph Stalin.[6] Far from being a body with a specialty in active measures, its mission was limited at the time to black propaganda and to disinformation; that is to say, “spreading false and misleading information, often of the slanderous sort”. The noun “disinformation” is not really of Russian origin, because it would be a translation of the French désinformation. French etymologists, however, reject the origin of the word to the Soviet Union between the World War I and the World War II.[citation needed] An ongoing theory says that Joseph Stalin himself would have coined “disinformation” in 1923, exactly,[7] by giving it a French sounding name in order to deceive all nations into believing it was a practice invented in France. The noun “disinformation” was thought as an action of disinformation itself, therefore.

The Soviet Union did not really begin to make propaganda abroad a powerful and sophisticated weapon before the appointment of Vladimir Semichastny as head of the KGB in 1961. From that year on, a new department, called Directorate D, was created in the First Chief Directorate of the KGB. Note that the letter “D” then still stood for “Disinformation”.[citation needed] In this early time, the unique purpose of this directorate was to invent and to spread sophisticated forms of disinformation, with a focus on Western Europe, accordingly.[citation needed]

The first person to be named head of the Directorate D was Colonel Ivan Agayants, an easygoing, smiling, and witty intellectual born in Armenia, polyglot and fluent in French in addition.[citation needed] Prior to this, interestingly, Agayants had been sent twice in intelligence missions in Paris, a first time from 1937 to 1940, and eventually from 1947 to 1949, where he is credited the recruitment of numerous French sources. This feat awarded him the position of head of the Western European Department of the MGB upon his return in Soviet Union, the same latter year.[8]

Agayants also held expertise in deception and forgery, and so he had a global and exhaustive perception of the greater potential power and effectiveness of this compound of knowledge that, at that time, limited to operations in intelligence and support to them. So much so that the latter set of eclectic methods, techniques, and means that each could not always qualify as disinformation formally speaking, actually was a global capacity serving a unique and particular objective entirely opposite to what espionage is about; so, without a name that could clearly denote what it was exactly.[9]

Additionally, all those very varied measures consisted in imagining, creating, and then exporting “finished abstracts products and services” to the Western World, and to an entirely different type of agents, since the role of the latter was to spread information instead of collecting it. To highlight the latter difference, intelligence essentially is a set of passive measures all aiming to watching and listening things and notions to be imported and analyzed; whereas the job of Agayants and of his Directorate was to fabricating things and notions to be exported and spread as largely as possible. All the latter therefore were active provisions or measures, whose particular natures implied an extreme secrecy that only an intelligence agency could handle.[10]

That is how and why, at some point of an evolution toward eclecticism, the missions of the directorate of Agayants could hardly be qualified otherwise than “actives or special provisions or measures,” vaguely and for wants of any precise and clear word as “espionage” can be. Note in passing that the same applies to another compound of similarly actives and eclectic missions, rather relevant to measures of paramilitary and criminal natures, named “special operations,” with the same vagueness, in Western intelligence agencies, due to the identical difficulty in being specific.[10]

From its inception, and under the leadership of Agayants, the Directorate D had proved an instant and huge success in misleading the target countries of the Soviet Union, and in sowing discord and disorder among their populations, thus distancing them usefully from their political establishments and leaders. These results awarded enormous additional funds to this sub-body of the First Chief Directorate, which thenceforth recruited steadily and massively. Sometimes between the 1960s and the 1970s, the Directorate D is said to have recruited the amazing number of up to 10,000 full-time employees.[10]

Circa 1967, the name Directorate D was changed for Service A, the letter standing this time for “Active Measures”. The change accompanied three events of importance. First, the health of Colonel Agayants was ailing seriously and incapacitated him. Second, the man chosen to take over the position was Yuri Modin. Modin eventually made a reputation for himself in all Western intelligence agencies, by being known as case officer of the “Cambridge Five” from 1948 to 1951, and then as “controller” (supervisor) of their new case officers until 1963. In passing, it should be said that the job of the Cambridge Five was essentially relevant to offensive counterespionage at some point; that is to say, deception, of which Modin became a specialist ultimately, almost the same way Agayants did when he was entrusted intelligence missions in France. Most likely, Agayants played a role of considerable importance in the gradual rise of Soviet influence in France from the end the WWII to 1960, by doing the same job as Modin did in Britain from 1948 to 1963.[10]

The change from directorate to service was not of pure form, because the active measures, by then, had evolved toward a doctrine, with its own rules and highly organized proceedings that together not only was changing the way the whole KGB was working, but even the strategy of the Soviet governmental apparatus. Therefore, the thinking body Agayants had created had gained an importance that justified greater trust in its staff of managers, thinkers, and experts, and greater secrecy around its existence and works. Indeed, active measures yielded even greater results that the espionage activities of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB itself, since it was in capacity to take over foreign countries silently, instead of just spying on them.[11]

Agayants died on May 12, 1968, from tuberculosis he had contracted in the 1930s, one year after he was named Deputy Head of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, a promotion that was more a reward for his accomplishments than effective, and perhaps even of pure form given the influence he had gradually gained over the entire KGB, as its eminence grise. Today, Agayants is regarded in the SVR RF as master in camouflage (“maskirovka”) and deception, founding father of the active measures, famous figure in the history of Soviet intelligence and even of Russia as it is nowadays. Indeed, at their inception, active measures based conceptually on military camouflage, from which the practice extended to more abstract applications and forms fitting the missions of the Soviet intelligence service.

Active measures are presented as a largely encompassing doctrine in intelligence, originally and directly inspired by the purpose of camouflage in the military and in wartime, well-named mackирoвка (maskirovka) in Russian. For maskirovka means, “disguise,” “disguising (oneself),” “masking,” and “concealment,” which sounds less military, already. Note the interesting root “mask,” here taken from the other Russian word mackа (maska), which means, “mask” literally, and “guise”.[12]

Active measures gradually extended to politics and foreign affairs as a surer and more sophisticated means to conceal real aims today we use to call, “hidden agenda”. This was shrouded in an all-Soviet perception and definition of intelligence, which fundamentally differs from these of the Western World. Service A remained the name of the KGB department responsible for active measures until the dissolution of this foreign intelligence service, in 1991.

Not only the active measures resumed in the Russian Federation, but since the late 1960s, it had evolved to a far-reaching doctrine whose application encompasses intelligence operations, foreign affairs, industry and business, and domestic politics, in order to enforce a coherence in a global action of conquests abroad. For a while, the U.S. intelligence community had an Active Measures Working Group, created in 1981 under the presidency of Ronald Reagan to strike back against Soviet active measures, precisely. This particular body was dismantled circa 1992, on the grounds that the Soviet Union had disappeared and several other arguments, although its final report, published in June of that latter year, warned of the existence of several ongoing Russian hostile actions against the United States, indeed relevant to active measures.

In a book he published in 2019, Dominique Poirier, former employee of the French intelligence service, DGSE, and specialist in influence and disinformation in this agency, explains that the Soviet active measures actually gathered an informal series of practices and tactics in intelligence and foreign affairs that the Nazis had been the first to use, much earlier in the 1930. The idea of the Nazis had been to integrate industry, business, and domestic politics in actions in intelligence, as a logical consequence of a perception of the state as an “organic entity,” that is to say, an inseparable whole. The concept of “living organic state” was first imagined in the early 1900s by Friedrich Ratzel, for he actually graduated in zoology and became a self-taught geographer while traveling and working as journalist to make a living. Ratzel had given the noun raum,” or “vital space” to his perception of the state. In 1905, Swedish political scientist and politician Rudolf Kjellén perfected it and renamed it “staatsbiologie,” or “biology of the state,” at the same time he coined the word geopolitik.

The theories of Ratzel and Kjellén influenced German economist and theoretician of Socialism Werner Sombart, who became one of the most influential sociologists in Nazi Germany between 1931 and 1938. The concept of the Nation-State as biological entity, multicellular, along with the other concept of “autarchy” that Sombart also borrowed to Ratzel and Kjellén and shared with Hitler, all along pervades his discourse. Sombart, as a socialist ideologue and exponent of economic planning, was unable to see the industry otherwise than as a feature of capitalism serving individualistic profit. He introduced in the Nazi economy this biological perception, whose theory he explained in an essay he first published in 1934.[13] In this same book, Sombart also defended the virtues of propaganda.[14]

From the concept of Kjellén, Adolf Hitler extended deception to diplomacy, foreign affair, industry and business since they were integral to the notion of “living organic state” either. Thus, Hitler informally established a gathering of guidelines that the Soviets took up decades later and named “active measures,” exemplified below.

All along the 1930s, Hitler had fighter planes and bombers designed and built, a secret enterprise camouflaged under the appearances of sport race planes and airliners building, to constitute a powerful air force in violation of the Versailles Treaty of June 1919. The trainings of pilots for those fighter planes also were camouflaged under pretenses of aerial acrobatics and sail gliding clubs through Hitler’s youth movement. Whereas in German factories, tens of thousands of workers mass-produced armaments, also in secrecy and, again, camouflaged under varied pretenses, All this while German diplomats were negotiating concessions on the Versailles Treaty, on claims of good intentions, self-defense, and of regaining sovereignty, also to rebuild a war navy with a focus on submarines. At the same time, German industrialists in business trips abroad all consistently lied about what was secretly underway in their country. Germans investors tried to produce films in Hollywood, touting the virtues of the new and peaceful German society under Nazism while the Olympic Games were unfolding in Berlin.

When he started the war, Hitler contrived to launch all his attacks on the eve of weekends, knowing that the decision-makers of the countries he invaded were all gone from offices on Saturdays and Sundays. Blitzkrieg was the word meaning swiftly waging war, catching the adversary by surprise … before Monday! The scheme Hitler found to justify his invasion of Poland, with the attack of the radio station of Gleiwitz (Gleiwitz incident) by few German commandos, disguised in Polish soldiers, who from this place broadcast false anti-German propaganda, epitomizes what Soviet tricks were not until the 1960s.

“To succeed in all this, the whole German Nation first had to partake in it, or to be also deceived.[15]

Circa 1980, the French foreign intelligence service, DGSE, imported and adopted the active measures as a doctrine regulating deception in diplomacy and foreign affairs, organized by the Intelligence and Security Service, whereas another service with a specialty in influence and “counterinterference” (counterinfluence) plans it in domestic politics.[16]

The theory of active measures

As taught to experts in information warfare, modern active measures in the 21st century subsume a variety of disciplines that are, first, epistemology, and then semiology, complex systems as a subset of systems theory, fuzzy logic, and a variety of forms of nonverbal communication recently associated in the Western World under the name meta-communication. During these teachings, the theory of active measures is exemplified in an abstract fashion with the other disciplines of chaos theory, fractal, and cellular automaton.[17]

Simultaneously, as active measures purport to change courses of actions in people or to elicit actions from them, either consciously or unconsciously, future experts in this field learn fundamentals in an evolution of behaviorism called “behavioral biology”. It may come as a surprise to the Westerner that the reading and understanding of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) by Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan is mandatory, in addition to a gathering of varied facts and notions relevant to psychology, Freudian psychoanalysis, advertising, public relations, and marketing.[18]

Active measures are generally designed to influence or to manipulate large collective bodies of individuals such as crowds and masses; that is to say, greater than a hundred of people. However, active measures occasionally aim groups of people, from two or three to a hundred. In all cases, an important distinction must be made between influencing and manipulating collective bodies of individuals. Manipulating is tampering with unconscious parts of the brain, whereas influencing is addressing the conscious parts of the brain. Nonetheless, persuasion often is part of a manipulation at some point; that is to say, subsumed in a contrivance that is a manipulation. Therefore, manipulating largely relies on this “confidential” and Eastern evolution of behaviorism that is behavioral biology.[19]

Very often, actives measures actually aim to mislead the masses above all, including in the country in which they are designed, but not the intelligence community of a target country and its political leaders. Three reasons justify the latter particularity. The first is that intelligence agencies, political leaders, and certain senior public servants are more difficult to deceive than the public that is always left ignorant of many facts and realities, essentially relevant to real-world politics or realpolitik. The second is that the political apparatus always has a stake in hiding the latter realities, which include the active measures of which it is the target, as the latter largely rely on this ignorance, precisely.[19]

As a result, informing the public on an ongoing hostile action of active measures, of which indeed it is the first victim, may entail problems more difficult to solve than if saying nothing; analogous, metaphorically, to the dilemma of having to extinguish with water a fire caused by a high-voltage wire. The third reason is that it often pays more to alter the judgment of large masses of people than that of the political apparatus that governs them, since the goal generally and ultimately is to turn the former against the latter, or / and against the scale of values and beliefs maintaining the stability of their country.[19]

In a large number of instances, actives measures in the 21st century proceed by an array of methods subsumed in a general action called сенсибилизация (“siencibilizatz’iya”), which noun with no real equivalent in English could be spelled “sensibilization,” meaning “awareness raising”. According to Dominique Poirier, the Service A of the KGB coined the word circa March 1968. An action of awareness raising in active measures may aim to influence the opinion of the public in one's own country or that of a foreign country or both, and its goal is to make masses of people receptive to a concern that may be either true and founded, or false and ill-founded in reality, or neither entirely true and founded nor entirely false and ill-founded but “somewhere between these two absolutes”. The latter hypothesis, which often is expected in active measures, is explained and ruled by the disciplines of fuzzy logic and chaos theory, and generally aims to breed doubt, confusion, or inhibition, and then angst, discontent, or fear in the minds of people.[19]

A modern action of active measures focusing on awareness raising often includes a manipulation that consists in altering the meaning of words, instead of creating new ones because this proves more efficient on the long term. At the simplest, altering the meaning of a word consist in gradually giving to it a positive or a negative connotation, knowing that the word in question was about neutral and did not communicate any strong feeling initially. As examples, typical and well known in politics and society nowadays, “right is bad, nasty, and hazardous,” “left is good, loving, and caring,” “blond, clear, bright, and shiny are of bad taste,” “brown, dark, tern, and dim are of good taste”.[19]

In the view of the Russians, words, and the exact meanings they convey, matter more than in Western countries, where the importance of this notion still is taken lightly or even dismissed, whence the success of the Russians in inhibiting the Western society with the concept of “political correctness,” essentially based on new meanings given to words and on the power that can be derived from those alterations. To put the latter explanation otherwise, how to cripple a nation by altering the meanings of its own language and by closely associating violence to as many of its words as possible, in order to ʻpoisonʼ them. The process is invisible because it does not consist in creating new words carrying in themselves influence, but in altering instead the meaning of words that exist already, by converting nouns into adjectives or the reverse, as (most frequent) example … Thus, it is possible indeed to sow discord that seems to erupt and to grow naturally within a nation while the unenlightened observer will perceive the process as a society that self-destructs or ʻsuicides,ʼ again ʼentirely by its ownʻ.[20]

A striking particularity of the doctrine of active measures is that those who are involved in it, unwillingly and unwittingly, or willingly and wittingly alike, must take the lies they spread as truths and believe them themselves, until they thus become a reality accepted as such by everyone and that the intent to deceive be finally forgotten. This implies the no less surprising facts that follow.

As a matter of fact, the conscious practitioner of active measures sums them up with the epigrammatic formula, ʻI advance masked,ʼ or Я заранее в масках, in Russian, and J’avance masqué in French [as the foreign intelligence agency of France relies on the same principles, today]. Therefrom, everything the enlightened practitioner of active measures contrives, undertakes, and does, has to be ʻcamouflagedʼ. Then, on the long term, being a practitioner of active measures must transform into a second nature. As examples, you go to buy a pack of cigarettes, then say you go to the bakery to anyone is asking to you where you are heading. You are disappointed or angry about something, therefore, show you are pleased with it. You are very glad to hear this, therefore, show you are not so. You are working in an office in a known place where you commonly welcome co-workers and guests, yet all very important and highly sensitive matters are debated in a room underground, formerly a cellar you transformed into a comfy place fitted out with some chairs and a table—called ʻchambre conspirativeʼ (conspiracy room). You are the CEO of the company, yet your accountant is the real boss and your watchdog. Then by extension, sometimes, you live in a large and comfortable house or mansion, yet it is not yours in reality. Your car is old or looks as a wreck, yet it has good tires, a powerful engine under the hood, and everything is mechanic is well serviced. And so on, and on.[12]



Promotion of guerrilla organizations worldwide

Soviet secret services have been described as "the primary instructors of guerrillas worldwide".[21][22][23] According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, KGB General Aleksandr Sakharovsky once said: "In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."[24] He also claimed that "Airplane hijacking is my own invention". In 1969 alone 82 planes were hijacked worldwide by the KGB-financed PLO.[24]

Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa described operation "SIG" (“Zionist Governments”) that was devised in 1972, to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the United States. KGB chairman Yury Andropov explained to Pacepa that

a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States[24]

The following liberation organizations have been allegedly established or supported by the KGB: Red Army Faction, PLO, National Liberation Army of Bolivia (created in 1964 with help from Ernesto Che Guevara); the National Liberation Army of Colombia (created in 1965 with help from Cuba), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1969, and the Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia in 1975.[25]

Installing and undermining governments

After World War II, Soviet security organizations played a key role in installing puppet Communist governments in Eastern Europe, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, and later Afghanistan. Their strategy included mass political repressions and establishment of subordinate secret services in all occupied countries[26][27]

Some of the active measures were undertaken by the Soviet secret services against their own governments or Communist rulers. Russian historians Anton Antonov-Ovseenko and Edvard Radzinsky suggested that Joseph Stalin was killed by associates of NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria, based on the interviews of a former Stalin body guard and circumstantial evidence.[28] According to Yevgeniya Albats allegations, Chief of the KGB Vladimir Semichastny was among the plotters against Nikita Khrushchev in 1964.[29]

KGB chairman Yuri Andropov reportedly struggled for power with Leonid Brezhnev.[30] The Soviet coup attempt of 1991 against Mikhail Gorbachev was organized by KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov.[29] Gen. Viktor Barannikov, then the former State Security head, became one of the leaders of the uprising against Boris Yeltsin during the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993.[29]

The current Russian intelligence service, SVR, allegedly works to undermine governments of former Soviet satellite states like Poland, the Baltic states[31] and Georgia.[32] During the 2006 Georgian-Russian espionage controversy several Russian GRU case officers were accused by Georgian authorities of preparations to commit sabotage and terrorist acts.[citation needed]

Political assassinations

The highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa claimed to have had a conversation with Nicolae Ceauşescu, who told him about "ten international leaders the Kremlin killed or tried to kill": László Rajk and Imre Nagy from Hungary; Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu and Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej from Romania; Rudolf Slánský and Jan Masaryk from Czechoslovakia; the Shah of Iran; Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, President of Pakistan; Palmiro Togliatti from Italy; John F. Kennedy; and Mao Zedong. Pacepa provided some other claims, such as a plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organized by the KGB and alleged that "among the leaders of Moscow’s satellite intelligence services there was unanimous agreement that the KGB had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy."[33]

The second President of Afghanistan, Hafizullah Amin, was killed by KGB Alpha Group in Operation Storm-333. Presidents of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria organized by Chechen separatists including Dzhokhar Dudaev, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Aslan Maskhadov, and Abdul-Khalim Saidullaev were killed by FSB and affiliated forces.

Other widely publicized cases are murders of Russian communist Leon Trotsky and Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov.

There were also allegations that the KGB was behind the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in 1981. The Italian Mitrokhin Commission, headed by senator Paolo Guzzanti (Forza Italia), worked on the Mitrokhin Archives from 2003 to March 2006. The Italian Mitrokhin commission received criticism during and after its existence.[34] It was closed in March 2006 without any proof brought to its various controversial allegations, including the claim that Romano Prodi, former and current Prime minister of Italy and former President of the European Commission, was the "KGB's man in Europe." One of Guzzanti's informers, Mario Scaramella, was arrested for defamation and arms trading at the end of 2006.[35]

Puppet rebel forces

Operation Trust

In "Operation Trust" (1921–1926), the State Political Directorate (OGPU) set up a fake anti-Bolshevik underground organization, "Monarchist Union of Central Russia". The main success of this operation was luring Boris Savinkov and Sidney Reilly into the Soviet Union, where they were arrested and executed.

Basmachi revolt

During the Basmachi Revolt (started 1916) in Central Asia, special military detachments masqueraded as Basmachi forces and received support from British and Turkish intelligence services. The operations of these detachments facilitated the collapse of the Basmachi movement and led to the assassination of Enver Pasha.[36]

Post World War II counter-insurgency operations

Following World War II, various partisan organizations in the Baltic States, Poland and Western Ukraine (including some previous collaborators of Germany) fought for independence of their countries against Soviet forces. Many NKVD agents were sent to join and penetrate the independence movements. Puppet rebel forces were also created by the NKVD and permitted to attack local Soviet authorities to gain credibility and exfiltrate senior NKVD agents to the West.[36]

Supporting political movements

According to Stanislav Lunev, GRU alone spent more than $1 billion for the peace movements against the Vietnam War, which was a "hugely successful campaign and well worth the cost".[21] Lunev claimed that "the GRU and the KGB helped to fund just about every antiwar movement and organization in America and abroad".[21]

The World Peace Council was established on the orders of the Communist Party of the USSR in the late 1940s and for over forty years carried out campaigns against western, mainly American, military action. Many organisations controlled or influenced by Communists affiliated themselves with it. According to Oleg Kalugin,

... the Soviet intelligence [was] really unparalleled. ... The [KGB] programs—which would run all sorts of congresses, peace congresses, youth congresses, festivals, women's movements, trade union movements, campaigns against U.S. missiles in Europe, campaigns against neutron weapons, allegations that AIDS ... was invented by the CIA ... all sorts of forgeries and faked material—[were] targeted at politicians, the academic community, at [the] public at large. ...[3]

It has been widely claimed that the Soviet Union organised and financed western peace movements; for example, ex-KGB agent Sergei Tretyakov claimed that in the early 1980s the KGB wanted to prevent the United States from deploying nuclear missiles and that they used the Soviet Peace Committee to organize and finance peace demonstrations in western Europe.[37][38][39] (Western intelligence agencies, however, have found no evidence of this.)[40][41] Tretyakov made a further uncorroborated claim that "The KGB was responsible for creating the entire nuclear winter story to stop the Pershing II missiles,"[37] and that they fed misinformation to western peace groups and thereby influenced a key scientific paper on the topic by western scientists.[42]

United States

Some of the active measures by the USSR against the United States were exposed in the Mitrokhin Archive:[1]

In 1974, according to KGB statistics, over 250 active measures were targeted against the CIA alone, leading to denunciations of Agency abuses, both real and (more frequently) imaginary, in media, parliamentary debates, demonstrations and speeches by leading politicians around the world.[47][45]

In the modern day

After the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Kremlin-controlled media spread disinformation about Ukraine's government. In July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers. Kremlin-controlled media and online agents spread disinformation, claiming Ukraine had shot down the airplane.[48]

Russia's alleged disinformation campaign, its involvement in the UK's withdrawal from the EU, interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, and its alleged support of far-right movements in the West, has been compared to the Soviet Union's active measures in that it aims to "disrupt and discredit Western democracies".[49][50]

In testimony before the United States Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the U.S. policy response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Victoria Nuland, former US Ambassador to NATO, referred to herself as "a regular target of Russian active measures."[51][52]

French active measures

According to Dominique Poirier, employee of the SDECE from 1980 to 1982, and from the DGSE its successor from the latter year to circa 2001, the French foreign intelligence service imported Soviet active measures and integrated them as a doctrine regulating all its activities between 1980 and 1982. This was a second important step in the history of contemporary France since the signing of the French-Soviet Joint Declaration of June 30, 1966 in Moscow, of the withdrawal of France from NATO, and of the termination of all U.S. military presences and activities in France the same year.[53]

Previously, in 1962, relations between the French and the U.S. intelligence community had known a downturn consequent to the revelations of Anatoliy Golitsyn, a senior executive of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB who had defected to the United States on December 15, 1961, and to the defection to the same country of Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli, Chief of Station of the French intelligence service, SDECE, in Washington, on October 18, 1963.[54] The two latter events, which eventually resulted in a scandal known since as the Martel affair, were supervised by Chief of CIA counterintelligence James Jesus Angleton, and revealed that the SDECE and the French Government had been gradually and deeply penetrated by the Soviet intelligence service since the end of the WWII.[55][unreliable source?]

In May 1982, one year after the election of François Mitterrand as President of France and the victory of the Socialist Party (France) at the legislative election, backed by the French Communist Party, the foreign intelligence service of this country, SDECE, knew an upheaval in its organization and changed its name for DGSE. Dominique Poirier reveals that the latter political events were accompanied by a first joint campaign of active measures between the Soviet KGB and the French SDECE, consisting of three distinct operations of which the first was launched in 1980, months before François Mitterrand was elected president, and in anticipation of this event.[56]

Actually, Dominique Poirier specifies, the victory of the Socialist Party and of its head François Mitterrand owed largely to a consistent action of influence by the KGB in France, in which the SDECE, the French liberal Masonic grand lodge Grand Orient de France, the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (France), and the underground Soviet organization of the Rabkors together played a determining role from circa 1975. The conspiracy did not really come as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence community because earlier, in 1950, when the Generals' affair transformed in a scandal of worldwide resonance, “the DST, then headed by Roger Wybot, and the justice ran further investigations on the matter, and exposed a number of suspects who were senior executives in civil service and prominent socialist politicians. The latter were no less than Joseph Laniel, Pierre Mendès France, Edgar Faure, François Mitterrand, Jacques Duclos, and Emmanuel d'Astier de La Vigerie. Earlier, the DST had formally framed Astier de La Vigerie as a Soviet spy already[57][unreliable source?], but Edgar Faure, and François Mitterrand who had to become President of France in 1981, were the most suspected in the affair.”[unreliable source?]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mitrokhin, Vasili; Andrew, Christopher (2000). The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-028487-7. (en.wikipedia) (google books)
  2. ^ Testimony of Alexander, Gen. (ret.) Keith B. (March 30, 2017). "Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns" (PDF). United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. p. 1. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Interview of Oleg Kalugin on CNN Archived June 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ CSPAN, Senate Intelligence Committee on the policy response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections: Victoria Nuland testimony, June 20, 2018. URL accessed July 19, 2018
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