Soviet disinformation and active measures continued during what was called the era of glasnost in the 1980s. Soviet communist party officials described “the main enemy” (United States) as:
a country where freedom is suppressed, where violence flourishes, where trade unions are persecuted…and where the basic rights of the individual are hampered;…
The author of these words in the propaganda pamphlet, On the Edge of the Abyss (1985), was Aleksandr Yakovlev, head of the Central Committee Propaganda Department of the CPSU. Yakovlev further wrote that:
there was no alternative to détente…the Soviet Union stands for equal relations and mutually profitable cooperation, for a peaceful solution of all problems and disputes, for the free choice of all peoples on earth of a way of life to their liking…
It sounded very reasonable but was of course a big lie. In Russian there are two contrasting words for “lie”:” lozh”, which is a deliberate attempt to mislead, and “vranyo”, which is a falsehood both to speaker and listener. The listener, however, is expected to be too polite to denounce the falsehood openly.
The Helsinki Final Act on August 1, 1975, was not worth much more than the paper it was written on because the Soviets had no intention to observe human rights.
In the present New Cold War the Russian government is very much using the active measure methods from the 1980s. Agents of influence on behalf of Kremlin are at work especially in Europe. They are highly sought after by Russian media: TV, radio and on the internet. In this series of contributions a few Swedish cases have been presented but similar individuals can be found all over mostly Western Europe. In Eastern Europe the situation is different.
Both authorities and common people remember the “bad old times” during the Soviet occupation. In those countries primarily threatened by Russian aggression as for instance Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland measures are already taken to counter propaganda by Russian media.
One can only hope that the United States and the European Union will increase countermeasures against Russia’s war of disinformation, which has steadily increased since the illegal occupation of Crimea in 2014.