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Incremental Activism in Soviet Third World Policy: The Role of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee

  • Jan S. Adams (a1)


Historically, leaders of the Soviet Union have shown extraordinary faith in the power of bureaucratic reorganization to solve political problems. The 1985-1987 restaffing and restructuring of the foreign policy establishment indicate that Mikhail Gorbachev shares this faith. In the first sixteen months of his leadership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs replaced its minister, two first deputy ministers, seven deputy ministers, a third of all Soviet ambassadors, and created four new departments. In addition, important changes were made in the central party apparat, affecting three of the CPSU Central Committee departments: The International Information Department was abolished. The Propaganda Department gained added prominence in international affairs with the appointment of a new chief, Aleksandr Iakovlev, who began playing a conspicuous role as Gorbachev's advisor at international conferences even before his elevation to the Politburo in January 1987. Of great significance for the Soviet foreign policy establishment as a whole, the International Department (ID) was given new leadership, a new arms control unit, and expanded missions.



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An earlier version of this article was presented to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana, 20-23 November 1986. I am grateful to the Mershon Center, Ohio State University, for support in the preparation of this study.

1. The new units were Administration for Information (replacing the old Press Section), Administrationfor Problems of Arms Reduction and Disarmament, Department for Humanitarian and Cultural Ties, and the Pacific Oceans Department.

2. Alexander Rahr, “Winds of Change Hit Foreign Ministry,” Radio Liberty Research, RL 274/86, 16 July 1986.

3. A contributing factor, noted by Elizabeth Valkenier, could have been Moscow's “sober” reappraisalof its “ability to manipulate anti-imperialism to its advantage,” “Revolutionary Change in the Third World: Recent Soviet Assessments,” World Politics 38, no. 3 (1986): 415.

4. The institutional tension was eloquently expressed by an alleged comment of the late foreign ministerAndrei Gromyko, “there should not be two centers for handling foreign policy “; Shevchenko, Arkady, Breaking with Moscow (New York: Ballantine, 1985), 251 .

5. On the ID's new role, see Albright, David E., Soviet Policy toward Africa Revisited (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1987), 52 ; and Rice, Condoleeza, “The Party, the Military, and Decision Authority in the Soviet Union,” World Politics 40, no. 1 (1987): 79.

6. Wallace Spaulding predicted that if Gorbachev's reorganization had its intended effect, the IDwould “see to it that the CPSU's relations with the ‘Free World’ political parties and its control of the internationalfront organizations—the two main ID functions—[would] … more than ever be undertaken in thecontext of the USSR-US relationship (conceivably to the detriment of Third World concerns),” “Shifts inCPSU ID,” Problems of Communism, July-August 1986, 80.

7. Robert Kitrinos, “International Department of the CPSU,” Problems of Communism, September-October 1984, 47.

8. The key role played by the ID in Soviet foreign policy has been underscored in Kitrinos's studies;see also Jerry F. Hough, “Soviet Policymaking toward Foreign Communists,” Studies in Comparative Communism, Autumn 1982, 167–183; Elizabeth Teague, “The Foreign Departments of the Central Committeeof the CPSU,” Supplement to the Radio Liberty Research Bulletin, 27 October 1980; Leonard Schapiro, “The International Department of the CPSU: Key to Soviet Policy,” International Journal, Winter 1976–1977; and most recently in Spaulding, “Shifts in CPSU ID. “

9. Vernon Aspaturian, commenting on the evidence of this political arsenal exposed in the Grenadanpapers, has called it the “hitherto unnoticed Soviet strategy for the proliferation of client or communiststates,” “The Impact of the Grenada Events on the Soviet Alliance System” in Grenada and Soviet/CubanPolicy, ed. Jiri Valenta and Herbert J. Ellison (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1986), 45; see also the chapter on “Tools of Soviet Involvement” in the book by Saivetz, Carol R. and Woodby, Sylvia, Soviet-Third WorldRelations (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1985); Morris Rothenberg speaks of an “ ‘infrastructure’ of linkages “of the Soviet Union to Latin America that “receptive local governments might one day be disposed to cultivatefor mutual advantage,” “Latin America in Soviet Eyes,” Problems of Communism, September-October1983, 15; and Joseph E. Whelan has discussed the “more indirect, deceptively benign tactic of expandingpower and influence through the process of incrementalism,” Joseph E. Whelan, “Soviet Third-World PolicySince the 1970's: An Assessment,” Soviet Policy and United States Response in the Third World, reportprepared for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, (Washington, D.C.: GovernmentPrinting Office, 1981), 118.

10. Saivetz and Woodby, Soviet Third-World Relations, 161.

11. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: Soviet Union [Washington, D.C.], 3 August 1987, CC/7 (hereafter FBIS-Sov).

12. Moscow News, no. 22; FBIS-Sov, 29 May 1986, CC/6.

13. Treaties of cooperation and friendship have been signed with Egypt and India (1971), Iraq (1972), Somalia (1974), Angola (1976), Mozambique (1977), Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan (1978), thePeople's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1979), Syria (1980), the Congo (1981), and, most recently, Cuba (1989); the treaties with Egypt and Somalia were later abrogated.

14. Moscow Radio, 4 June 1986; FBIS-Sov, 5 June 1986, H/l-4.

15. Fricke, Karl Wilhelm, Die DDR-Staatssicherheit (Cologne: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1984, 184185 .

16. Richard F. Staar, “Checklist of Communist Parties in 1986,” Problems of Communism, March-April 1987, 42.

17. Seabury, Paul and McDougall, Walter A., eds., The Grenada Papers (San Francisco: ICS, 1984, 196197 .

18. Ibid.. 212.

19. Richard F. Staar, “Checklist of Communist Parties in 1987,” Problems of Communism, January-February 1988, 61, 70–76.

20. Wallace Spaulding, “Communist Fronts in 1986,” Problems of Communism, March-April 1987, 57, says, “the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) is said to control these organizations through itsInternational Department (ID), and in at least two cases an ID sector chief has been publicly identified ashaving oversight for front affairs: Iulii P. Kharlamov for the World Peace Council (WPC) and Grigorii V.Shumeyko for the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization (AAPSO).” ID Deputy Chief Vitalii S. Shaposhnikov is also deputy chairman of the World PeaceCouncil.

21. TASS, 8 December 1987; FBIS-Sov, 15 December 1987, 6.

22. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Directory of Soviet Officials: National Organizations (Washington, D.C., June 1986), 233238 .

23. FBIS-Sov, 14 January 1988, 23.

24. Moscow TASS, 3 June 1986; FBIS-SOV, 4 June 1986, H/10

25. Moscow TRVD, 7, 8, August 1986; FBIS-Sov, 12 August 1986, C/4, E/4.

26. Kusin, Vladimir V., From Dubcek to Charter 77 (Edinburgh: Q Press, 1978), 258 .

27. Seabury and McDougall, eds., Grenada Papers, 208.

28. Hough, “Soviet Foreign Policymaking,” 181. The number of ID department and sector heads is inDirectory of Soviet Officials, 15–16.

29. Address at the Kennan Institute, Washington, D.C., 25 April 1985.

30. The manipulative approach and confidence in the power of ideas of the ID staff is revealed in thefollowing remark of V. V. Zagladin, first deputy chief of the ID, quoted by the former Ministry of ForeignAffairs official Arkady Shevchenko: “you Foreign Ministry people don't understand the power of Communistideas in the world and the way to exploit them,” Breaking with Moscow, 253.

31. Young, Crawford, Ideology and Development in Africa (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1982), 82 .

32. David Pollock, “Moscow and Aden: Coping with a Coup,” Problems of Communism, May-June 1986, 50.

33. Moscow TASS, 6 June 1986; FBIS-Sov, 10 June 1986, Kl-2.

34. A. P. Kireev, “Disarmament for Development,” Latinskaia Amerika, September 1987, 137; emphasisadded.

35. Nonetheless, sixty speakers have been reported as criticizing the policies; see Elizabeth Teague, “Post-Mortem on Youth Festival Reveals Flaws in Komsomol's Ideological Work,” Radio Free Europe!Radio Liberty Research. RL 376–85, 12 November 1985.

36. Moscow TASS, 17 May 1986; FBIS-Sov, 20 May 1986, CC/5.

37. New York Times. 4 July 1986.

38. New York Times. 26 August 1987. TASS is quoted in FBIS-Sov. 21 July 1987, A4

39. At this congress 29 speakers were from Africa, 27 from South America, 17 from the Middle East, and 13 from Asia. Special honor was accorded to Fidel Castro, who was the first foreign guest to speak, taking precedence over the East European party leaders. Altogether, 144 foreign guests addressed thecongress.

40. Pechat’ v SSSR v 1979 godu (Moscow: Finansy i statistiki, 1980), 23–24; Pechat’ v SSSR v 1984godu (Moscow: Finansy i statistiki, 1985), 26–27. Pechat’ v SSSR v 1985 godu (Moscow: Finansy i statistiki, 1986), 26–27; Pechat’ v SSSR v 1986 godu (Moscow: Finansy i statistiki, 1987), 16–17.

41. Pechat’ v SSSR v 1986 godu, 112, 122. Information from the U.S. International CommunicationsAgency indicates that “Soviet officials distribute periodicals in most African countries. New Dawn, for example, has a circulation of 3, 000 to 5, 000 in Nigeria and 3, 000 in Botswana; in Tanzania, the Soviet weeklyUrusi Leo (a Swahili title meaning Russia Today) has a printing run of 25, 000. Soviet books, translated intoEnglish and French, are available throughout Africa. The books typically deal with Marxist ideology, life inthe USSR, and scientific topics,” Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, The Soviet Union inthe Third World, 1980–85: An Imperial Burden or Political Asset?, Report for the Committee on ForeignAffairs, U.S. House of Representatives (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 23 September1985), 220.

42. Kusin, From Dubchek to Charter 77, 263; on 12–15 April 1988, the magazine sponsored a conferencein Prague for ninety-three representatives of “fraternal parties, workers', and revolutionary democraticcountries,” with an address by ID chief Dobrynin; Richard F. Staar, “Checklist of Communist Partiesin 1988,” Problems of Communism, January-February 1989, 47.

43. Kitrinos, “International Department,” 62–64.

44. Latinskaia Amerika, April 1986, 130; according to Cole Blazier, in 1981 the Russian edition had acirculation of 8, 000; the Spanish edition, 15, 000; “The Soviet Latin Americanists,” Latin American ResearchReview, 16, no. I (1981): 111; this article also appears as appendix 2 in Blazier, Cole, The Giant'sRival: The USSR and Latin America (Pittsburgh Penn.: University. of. Pittsburgh Press, Press). Circulation ofthe Russian edition was 6, 100 in 1986 and varied from 6, 500 to 7, 500 in 1987.

45. Spaulding, “Shifts in CPSU ID,” 80; as first deputy chief of the ID, G. M. Kornienko served onthe editorial board of SShA from November 1986 to February 1989.

46. For discussions of the operations of the international academic institutes and journals, seeKitrinos, “International Department,” 62–64, Valkenier, Elizabeth, The Soviet Union and the Third World;An Economic Bind (New York: Praeger, 1983, 4057 ; Cole Blazier, “Soviet Latin Americanists,” 107—124; Saivetz and Woodby, Soviet Third-World Relations, 159; Hough, Jerry, The Struggle for the Third World (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institute, 1986), 37, 257 .

47. Dash, Barbara, A Defector Reports: The Institute of the USA and Canada, Report prepared for theOffice of the Secretary of Defense (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, May 1982), 11, 12 .

48. Latinskaia Amerika (April 1986), 124, 127, 130.

49. Aspaturian, “The Impact of Grenada Events,” 48; emphasis added.

50. Edward A. Gargan, “Some Chinese Leaders Favoring Old Soviet Plans,” New York Times, 12 February 1987.

51. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Warsaw Pact Economic Aid toNon-Communist LDCs, 1984, publication 9345, May 1986, 6.

52. Pravda, 23 May 1986; FBIS-Sov, 5 June 1986, J2. Soviet sources claim that, although they welcomestudents from any background, class, or religious affiliation to their USSR institutions, the overwhelmingmajority of students from less-developed countries, especially those in Asia and Africa, come from underprivileged, hired laborers’ families and the middle classes (workers, technicians, engineers, workers inservice jobs, rural proletariat) or families of small tradesmen and producers (peasants, artisans); see V. F. Li, “Politicheskaia nadstroika v obshchestvakh sotsialisticheskoi orientatsii,” Voprosy filosofii, no. 9 (1981): 14. Such students may be expected to show special gratitude for educational opportunities otherwise inaccessibleto them.

53. Warsaw Pact Economic Aid, 6.

54. M. S. Gorbachev, hvestiia, 23 June 1984, 2, quoted in Staar, Richard F., USSR Foreign Policiesafter Detente (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1985), 17; Margaret Daly Hayes, “Girding for theLong Run: Recommendations and Options for Coping with Soviet/Cuban Strategy in the Caribbean Basin, “in Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy, ed. Valenta and Ellison, 218.

55. Fukuyama, Francis, “Military Aspects of U.S.-Soviet Competition in the Third World” in East-West Tensions in the Third World, ed., Shulman, Marshall D. (New York: Norton, 1986), 205 . Rotberg, Robert I., “Africa, The Soviet Union, and the West in East-West Rivalry in the Third World”, ed. Clawson, Robert W. (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1986), 229 ; see also S. Falk, Pamela, “Cuba in Africa,” Foreign Affairs 65, no. 5 (1987): 1, 084.

56. See the testimony of Dickson Namalo (604–607), Emanuel Hashiko (612), and Lt. A. F. Bomba (678–679) in The Role of the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany in Fomenting Terrorism in Southern Africa, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 97th Congress, 2d Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1982), and see778, 798; compare “Document 28,” Grenada Documents: An Overview and Selection (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, September 1984).

57. Li, “Politicheskaia nadstroika,” 14. Pravda, 23 May 1986; FBIS-Sov, 5 June 1986, J/2.

58. Moscow TASS, 28 May 1986; FBIS-Sov, 30 May 1986, CC/6. FBIS-Sov, 24 December 1987, 20;31 December 1987, 23; 4 January 1988, 20; and 14 January 1988, 24.

59. Seabury and McDougall, eds., Grenada Papers, 218.

60. For an important recent discussion of this relation see Knight, Amy W., The KGB: Police andPolitics in the Soviet Union (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1988, 284299 .

61. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, 94th Congress, 2d Session, Foreign and Military Intelligence, Bookl, Report no. 94–755 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976), 557. Jameson, Donald, “Trends in Soviet Covert Action,” in IntelligenceRequirements for the Eighties: Covert Action, ed. Godson, Roy (Washington, D.C.: National StrategyInformation Center, 1981), 170171 .

62. Barron, John, KGB Today: The Hidden Hand (New York: Reader's Digest Association, 1983), 262 . “By Soviet definition, Active Measures consist of a diversity of tactics including overt and covert propaganda, mass demonstrations, controlled international assemblies, disinformation, forgeries, use of Agents ofInfluence, and occasionally acts of sabotage, terrorism and even murder, committed for psychologicaleffect,” ibid., 251; see also Kanet, Roger E., “Soviet Propaganda and the Process of National Liberation,” in The Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Third World, ed. Kanet, Roger E. (Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress, 1987, 84114 .

63. Barron, KGB Today, 447.

64. FBIS-Sov, 11 January 1988, 38; Hayden B. Peake says “there are few, if any, indications [into1989] that the KGB has made any fundamental changes in its foreign intelligence practices or objectives, organizational or operational” (“The KGB in the Glasnost Era,” Foreign Intelligence Literary Scene[Washington, D.C.: National Intelligence Study Center, 1989] 8 [no. 1]: 3).

65. Role of the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany, 135.

66. Gary Thatcher, “Soviets Found to Influence African National Congress but Not Control It, “Christian Science Monitor, 8 August 1986, 1; FBIS-SOV, 18 December 1987, 20. Concerning the actualcoordination of Soviet policy and intelligence operations in southern Africa, Peter Vanneman says, “basicallyit is run by the international department of the Communist Party headed by Mr. Ponomarev, who is inrelatively frequent contact with the ANC and SWAPO people,” “Testimony of Professor Peter Vanneman[Department of Political Science, University of Arkansas]” in Role of the Soviet Union, Cuba and EastGermany, 31.

67. Barron, KGB Today, 263; see also, Kitrinos, “International Department,” 51, 58.

68. See “Estimates of Soviet Financial Support of Front Organizations,” appendix 1 in U.S. House ofRepresentatives, Soviet Covert Action (The Forgery Offensive), Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 6, 19 February 1980 (Washington, D.C.: GovernmentPrinting Office, 1980), 79, reproduced in Kitrinos, “International Department,” 58; see also, Kitrinos's discussion of international and bilateral fronts, 57–59.

69. Shevchenko, Breaking with Moscow, 252.

70. Kitrinos, “International Department,” 60.

71. See Romerstein, Herbert, “Soviet Intelligence in the United States,” in Intelligence Requirementsfor the Eighties: Counterintelligence, ed. Godson, Roy (Washington, D.C.: National Strategy Information Center, 1980), 189 , concerning the coordinated activities of the Cuban DG1 with the KGB and the ID; seealso, Shultz, Richard H. Jr., “Soviet Strategy and Organization: Active Measures and Insurgency,” in TheRed Orchestra, ed. Bark, Dennis L. (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1986), 4666 .

72. Charles Gati, “Fraternal Assistance: Eastern Europe in Grenada,” in Grenada and Soviet/CubanPolicy, ed. Valenta and Ellison, 89.

73. Fricke, Die DDR-Staatssicherheil. 185.

74. Timmermann, Heinz, The Decline of the World Communist Movement (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1987), 6162 .

75. K. Simes, Dimitri, “Gorbachev: A New Foreign Policy?Foreign Affairs 65, no. 3 (1986): 489.

76. With the October 1988 reorganization of the Soviet foreign policy establishment and streamliningof the Central Committee apparat, the ID absorbed two Central Committee departments—those for liaisonwith Communist and workers’ parties and for cadres abroad—and came under the direct guidance ofAleksandr Iakovlev, head of the new Commission on Questions of International Policy.

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Incremental Activism in Soviet Third World Policy: The Role of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee

  • Jan S. Adams (a1)


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