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During the Cold War, from the 1950s to the 1990s, the Soviet Union and the USA were engaged in an arms race. During that time, anti-war movements were formed in the West, Asia, Africa and Latin America, and there were attempts by the Soviet Union to use them to promote Soviet interests.


The World Peace Council

Soviet foreign peace propaganda was led by the World Peace Council (WPC), an organization said to have received $63 million in Soviet funding.[1] It organized international peace conferences which condemned western armaments and weapons tests but refrained from criticizing Russian arms. For example, in 1956 it condemned the Suez war but not the Russian invasion of Hungary.[2]

The WPC tried to use non-aligned peace organizations to spread the Soviet point of view. In the 1950s, there was limited co-operation between non-aligned peace groups and the WPC, but western delegates who tried to criticise the Soviet Union at WPC conferences were often shouted down.[2] This led them to dissociate themselves from the WPC. In 1953, the International Liaison Committee of Organizations for Peace stated that it had "no association with the World Peace Council". In 1956, the German section of War Resisters International condemned the WPC for its failure to respond to Soviet H-bomb tests. In Sweden, Aktionsgruppen Mot Svensk Atombomb discouraged its members from participating in communist-led peace committees. In Britain, CND advised local groups in 1958 not to participate in a forthcoming WPC conference. In the USA, SANE rejected WPC appeals for co-operation. The WPC attempted to co-opt the eminent peace campaigner Bertrand Russell, much to his annoyance, and he refused to associate with them. As a result of confrontation between western and Soviet delegates at the 1962 World Congress for Peace and Disarmament, organised by the WPC, forty non-aligned organisations decided to form a new international body, the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace, to which Soviet delegates were not invited.[3]

Following the large peace demonstrations in Europe in October and November 1981, US President Ronald Reagan said that "those are all sponsored by a thing called the World Peace Council, which is bought and paid for by the Soviet Union".[4] The Soviet Peace Committee, a Soviet government organization, is said to have funded and organized demonstrations in Europe against US bases.[5][6] After mass demonstrations in West Germany in 1981, an official investigation turned up circumstantial evidence but no absolute proof of KGB involvement and western intelligence experts believed that the mass movement in opposition to NATO missiles in Europe at that time was probably not Soviet-inspired.[7] In testimony before the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the FBI claimed that a Communist-front group, the U.S. Peace Council, was among the organizers of a large 1982 peace protest in New York City, but said that the KGB had not manipulated the American movement "significantly."[7]

In 1980, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence received reports that six peace groups were "closely connected" with the World Peace Council:[1][8]

Wider Soviet influence

Some writers have suggested that the influence of the Soviet Union reached beyond the World Peace Council. An analysis of Soviet attempts to influence Western peace movements was presented by Richard Felix Staar in his book Foreign Policies of the Soviet Union, in which he said that that the goal of such movements was to "spread Soviet propaganda themes and create false impression of public support for the foreign policies of Soviet Union." Non-communist peace movements without overt ties to the USSR were "virtually controlled" by it and most of their supporters - so-called "useful idiots" - were unwitting instruments of Soviet propaganda.[1]

Russian GRU defector Stanislav Lunev said in his autobiography that "the GRU and the KGB helped to fund just about every antiwar movement and organization in America and abroad." and that during the Vietnam War the USSR gave $1 billion to American anti-war movements, more than it gave to the VietCong.[9] Lunev described this as a "hugely successful campaign and well worth the cost".[9] A US State Department official estimated that $600 million may have been spent on the peace offensive up to 1983.[7]

Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general, said that the KGB ran "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" and that "all sorts of forgeries and faked material - [were] targeted at politicians, the academic community, at [the] public at large."[10]

According to the Danish Ministry of Justice, the KGB promised to help finance advertisements signed by prominent Danish artists who wanted Scandinavia to be declared a nuclear-free zone. In November 1981, Norway expelled a suspected KGB agent who had offered bribes to Norwegians to get them to write letters to newspapers denouncing the deployment of new NATO missiles.[7]

See also

Soviet activity:


  1. ^ a b c Richard Felix Staar, Foreign policies of the Soviet Union, Hoover Press, 1991, ISBN 0817991026, pp.79-88
  2. ^ a b Lawrence Wittner, Resisting the Bomb, Stanford University Press, 1997
  3. ^ Oxford Conference of Non-aligned Peace Organizations
  4. ^ E.P.Thompson, "Resurgence in Europe and the rôle of END", in J.Minnion and P.Bolsover (eds.), The CND Story, Alison and Busby, London, 1983
  5. ^ Pete Earley, Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War, Penguin Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-399-15439-3, pp.169-177
  6. ^ Ron Ringer, Excel HSC Modern History, Pascal Press, 2004, ISBN 1741252466
  7. ^ a b c d John Kohan, "The KGB: Eyes of the Kremlin", Time, 14 February 1983
  8. ^ U.S. Congress. House. Select Committee on Intelligence, Soviet Covert Action: The Forgery Offensive, 6 and 19 Feb. 1980, 96th Cong., 2d sess., 1963. Washington, DC: GPO, 1980
  9. ^ a b Stanislav Lunev, Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-89526-390-4
  10. ^ An interview with retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin, CNN

External links

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