A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda

Politico Europe edition

How Russia hacked the French election

Opinion from Laura Daniels 

Since the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Moscow waged an influence campaign targeting the 2016 U.S. elections, experts have asked: Will it do the same in the French and German elections? Both votes will have an enormous impact on the future of Europe and the liberal order, and much is weighing on whether these democracies are adequately shielded from outside manipulation.
In fact, Moscow has already interfered in French elections. In 1974, the KGB launched a covert propaganda campaign to discredit both François Mitterrand and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Overtly, Moscow courted Giscard, to an extent that papers such as the right-wing L’Aurore condemned it as an “intolerable” insertion into French domestic politics. Correspondents interpreted the move as “open intervention in national politics.”

The second link in this piece is to a New York Times article from MAY 9, 1974 with the headline:

Russian Envoy Calls On Giscard, Stirring A Dispute in France

PARIS, May 8—The Soviet Ambasiador has called on Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the conservative presidential candidate, resulting in an assertion by some right‐wing commentators that Moscow was interfering in France's internal affairs.

The first link from Politico goes to this PDF file:

United States Department of State
Soviet Influence Activities:
A Report on Active Measures and
Propaganda, 1986 - 87
August 1987

From the Preface

In response to legislation passed in 1985, the Department of State on July 30,1986, submitted to Congress a document titled Active Measures: A Report on the Substance and Process of Anti-U.S. Disinformation and Propaganda Campaigns.
This report updates that document, focusing on events and changes which occurred between June 1986 and June 1987. Both reports were prepared by the Active Measures Working Group...

...Propaganda is distinct from active measures, yet the two are closely integrated in fulfillment of Soviet foreign policy objectives. The definition of propaganda used in this report is: information that reflects the perceptions or perspectives of a government-in this case, the Soviet Union. Active
measures-such as the use of front groups or the spread of disinformation (lies)--are deceptive operations that attempt to manipulate the opinions and/or actions of individuals, publics, or governments. They often are covert.

Active measures, the focus of this report, cannot be discussed without also addressing propaganda. The themes of propaganda are often reinforced by and are the raison díetre of active measures. Thus, while the main purpose of this report is to reveal and describe Soviet influence activities that are deceptive and illegitimate, they will be discussed in the overall context of Soviet propaganda...


Skipping to Chapter X


Soviet active measures in the U.S. are designed to influence public opinion and perceptions of Soviet foreign policy goals-particularly defense-related goals.
These include defeat of SDI, promotion of a comprehensive test ban, and a nuclear freeze. The active measures tools include forgeries and other disinformation, such front organizations as NCASF and USPC, penetration and use of labor organizations,
and use of the CPUSA.

These Soviet active measures are artfully coupled with propaganda campaigns and, to some extent, intelligence operations. Recent Soviet active measures are more subtle than past efforts. The use of fronts of fronts, for example, insulates the activities of U.S.-based organizations and helps obfuscate the financing and direction provided by Moscow.

Coupled with its efforts to denigrate the U.S. image, Moscow has sought to burnish its own. An effort-essentially a disinformation campaign to convince the world that freedom of religion now exists in the U.S.S.R. is central to improving the Soviet image. With this improvement, Moscow knows, comes an enhanced capability credibly to address and influence U.S. religious organizations.

In conclusion, Moscowís active measures efforts have become more sophisticated and subtle. This trend can be expected to continue. The top personnel in charge of propaganda and active measures are well-versed in Western culture and society. Their understanding will certainly enhance the Soviet capabilities to influence Western audiences. The most important reason that such measures can be expected to continue, however, is the fact that they have met with a fair degree of success.


Chapter XI

The Soviet effort to manipulate the opinions and perceptions of leaders and publics throughout the world is highly orchestrated and effective. It has resulted in the widespread, unjustified belief throughout the world that the United States is engaged in such nefarious activities as the creation and purposeful dissemination of the AIDS virus, use of

chemical weapons, and assassination of leaders. One of the most important counters to these deceptive influence operations is to expose Soviet methods.

Remarks by two former KGB agents who defected to the West are particularly enlightening on this subject. Stanislav Levchenko and Ilya Dzhirkvelov were KG13 agents directly involved in active measures operations prior to their defections.

Dzhirkvelov, a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB, worked in the Soviet special services from 1945 to 1980, when he received political asylum in United Kingdom. Levchenko worked officially as a correspondent for the Soviet journal Novaya Vremya in Tokyo. Espionage, disinformation, and active measures against Western diplomats, journalists, and students were part of their responsibilities.

An interview with Levchenko and Dzhirkvelov was published in the article ìSoviet Espionage and Disinformationî in the February 20,1987 issue of Russkaya Mysl, a Parisian emigre weekly.Excerpts from the interview by Pierre Henk follow...

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