Date: 7 February 2022
Author: Michał Wojnowski

Goals, means, and methods of Russian intelligence agencies for provoking racial conflicts in the United States. The case of the African American community. Part I. The interwar period

SOURCE: ndla.no


            In an interview with Russian state-run broadcaster Rossiya-1 on October 7, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of the situation before the November presidential election in the United States, saying he agreed with some of the liberal and left-wing values of the Democratic Party. The Russian leader said the Soviet Union––just like Democrats in the U.S.––backed the ethnic African American population in their fight for fundamental rights since the 1930s when the Communist International (Comintern) considered imperialism and capitalism a common enemy of both White and Black workers. Putin got nostalgic about the time when the Soviet Union would display portraits of Angela Davis, a Black Communist member[1] and an activist committed to African American rights movement[2].

The Russian leader’s public statements do not conform to reality but justify Moscow’s political course[3], as confirmed by his disinformational statement above. It is vital to suggest and support the hypothesis that the Soviet Union backed African Americans in their fight for freedom just for the sake of sabotaging the United States, contrary to what Vladimir Putin claimed in the interview. Russian intelligence bodies and their proxies have conducted such activities since the early 1920s. Their goals consisted in:

  • inciting Black separatism to impair the territorial integrity of the United States,
  • supporting nationalist movements to degrade the international situation and fostering a revolutionary mood by undermining social order, also through the reinforced Marxist ideology,
  • using racism[4] to generate tensions in U.S. society before affecting the country’s domestic and foreign policy.

This article traces back the origin and subsequent methods and means Soviet and then Russian intelligence outlets used to influence the African American population and related milieux from the 1920s onwards. While analyzing Russian intelligence now, it is key to examine some past facts as these agencies resemble their predecessors both in structure and tools. Retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin, former head of KGB political operations in the United States, is one of many to confirm this. In an interview published on June 20, 1990, under the title “KGB is not changing its rules,” he claimed intelligence operational methods echoed those used fifty years before, still based on training manuals of the Department for Protecting the Public Security and Order (Okhrana), a secret police force of the Russian Empire and part of the police department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs[5]. In this light, KGB training papers, which date from the 1960s and the 1970s, hailed intelligence operations Okhrana once conducted[6]. Colonel Sergey Mironenko[7] believed that Russian operatives would appreciate both the historical and structural continuity of intelligence agencies. He himself admitted having learned some operational skills from personnel working for the Main Directorate of Counter-Intelligence “Smersh” of the State Defense Committee[8]. According to Mironenko, Russian security officials are the modern successor of the Cheka secret police. The Russian scholar claims Cheka officials took some operational tools after Okhrana. Mironenko insists that the secret police force of the Russian Empire and Russian officers now share a common mental scheme that determines the operational style of Russian intelligence services[9]. So some historical background makes it possible to at least partly define modern Russian intelligence efforts along with means and methods. Soviet/Russian intelligence operations targeting African Americans just seem to corroborate this claim.

The report contains evidence from U.S. federal services (mostly the FBI and CIA), state agencies (House Committee on Un-American Activities), media outlets, universities, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. They were then confronted with documents from Communist parties and secret police agencies of some Communist countries (Comintern, KGB, Stasi). A useful addition is also interviews, articles, hearings, and memoirs of former Russian intelligence operatives. The report cites Russian experts linked to intelligence services through their training[10].


The first part discusses the origin of Soviet intelligence activities and those of related individuals and organizations that targeted the African-American population between the two world wars.

Parts II and III are currently under preparation; these two will outline Soviet/Russian intelligence operations against African Americans in the 1940s until the late Cold War (Part II) and from the 1990s until now (Part III)[11].

“The Negro Soviet Republic”[12] – an attempt to impair U.S. territorial integrity

Separatism is the ideas or activities advocating the separation of a group or a territorial unit from a country, state institutions, or a larger group, usually in the form of autonomy or independence. Separatism stems from cultural, ethnic, and religious divisions. It foments the situation at home and abroad while giving rise to a violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty[13]. Starting from the 1920s, U.S. Communists made all efforts to put in practice what the Third Congress imposed on them, which was an idea to form an independent African American state in southern states[14]. It marked the first Soviet-made attempt to compromise U.S. territorial integrity thus what needs attention is the origin, course, and effects of the Soviet-inspired operation.

Geopolitical context – a new strategy for worldwide revolution and its tools

Many U.S. and Canadian historians and political scientists believe that the Soviet Union sought peaceful coexistence with other states, with its chief goal consisting in “survival.”[15] So interpreting some strategic objectives of Soviet foreign policy is a somewhat doubtful task. Furthermore, such claims could perpetuate some erroneous understanding of Russian policy now on the geopolitical chessboard. A geopolitical context is key to fully grasp the threat from Soviet/Russian-orchestrated U.S. racial conflicts.

Soviet Russia, which established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on December 30, 1922, followed its expansionist foreign policy under the banner of a proletarian revolution worldwide––a descendant of the Bolshevik political agenda[16]. The Bolsheviks assumed power to create a global conflict––first in Russia before it swept Europe and the world. A worldwide revolution came in various forms. Communist aggression in Europe and Asia unfolded militarily first. Nonetheless, some initial attempts to stage a revolution in Finland, the Baltic countries, Germany, Hungary, and Italy (1918–1921) eventually ended in failure. In 1920, Poland resisted Soviet territorial grip on the West, thus exposing the country’s military flaws and a marginal impact of the Communist ideology. As political moods stabilized in the late 1920s while living standards improved, a revolutionary mood somewhat faded. In developed capitalist countries, industrial workers enjoyed vast welfare solutions. So those who reaped capitalism-brought welfare benefits had absolutely no interest in toppling the system that in fact nourished them. Moreover, military efforts to provoke a revolution in Western nations eventually backfired, compromising the Communist ideology and cementing the nationalist mood among the domestic public. Fear of Bolshevism soon made Western nations develop a new anti-Communist trend––Fascism[17].

Top Soviet officials thus had to revise their means for provoking a global Communist revolution. Delegates attending the Third Congress of the Communist International in Moscow (June 22–July 12, 1921) were tasked with developing a new strategy for Bolshevik expansion suitable for what was referred to as a “protracted revolutionary crisis.” Its foundation was Lenin’s Theses for a Report of the Tactics of the R.C.P. at the Third Congress of the Communist International of June 13, 1921, and the Speech on the Tactics of the R.C.P. of July 5, 1921. The two papers are now a useful source outlining the Soviet foreign policy in the 1920s. “The global experience of the revolutionary struggle” lost momentum and the capitalist system solidified, both papers read. Lenin said back then that the international situation was distinguished by a certain equilibrium, which, although extremely unstable, had nevertheless given rise to a peculiar state of affairs in world politics that he referred to as peredyshka[18]. Despite a weak Russian government and the Soviet Army, Western nations made a failed attempt to overthrow the Bolshevik regime. At the same time, Lenin insisted on an acute conflict of political and economic interests between the various “imperialist” countries. The international bourgeoisie was then deprived of the opportunity of waging an “open war” against Soviet Russia. Lenin believed that Soviet Russia was left isolated in the “capitalist encirclement[19].” He formulated this thesis upon a pseudoscientific Marxist doctrine on class warfare, expansive capitalism, and the inevitability of revolution. According to Lenin, Soviet Russia was surrounded by capitalist states whose chief mission was to compromise the country by undermining its domestic situation and launching a military offensive. The doctrine assumed an inevitable clash between Communist Russia and “imperialist” Western nations[20].

The concept of “capitalist encirclement,” which drew from the Marxist-Leninist ideology, did not serve the Kremlin to justify its belligerent policy; it set the country’s priorities and means at the time of the Soviet Union. Interestingly, in its foreign policy, the Soviet Union was based upon geopolitical and geostrategic factors while rejecting any moral and ethical aspects. Another salient feature was an ideology that served as a foundation for any Soviet undertaking. The Bolsheviks rapidly began to follow a long-term scheme targeting Western nations, defined as a “rational policy of power.” The agenda, which was then consistently pursued by Stalin and later Soviet leaders, largely rested on Lenin’s theory of some inevitable contradictions inside capitalism and a likewise clash between “socialism and the bourgeoisie[21].” The following strategic goals were determined:

1) preventing or impeding a Western intervention through an array of long-term operations to disinform and sow discord in countries worldwide.

2) nurturing chasms and conflicts in capitalist states to eventually lay the groundwork for further Communist expansion through revolution. Abram Deborin skillfully grasped the core of this strategy, insisting on the scientific nature of Soviet foreign policy. It was both flexible and tactically wise. The Soviet strategy took into account flagrant contradictions between capitalist states before exploiting them for the sake of the Kremlin. A thorough study of them and their causes was a prerequisite for a prosperous Soviet foreign policy[22].

3) starting a “second imperialist war” to damage a “capitalist environment.” The reason behind the war was to be Western rivalry in colonies and the doctrine of “German revisionism” as a vehicle for territorial changes in Europe[23].

After the demise of the Soviet Union, the theory of “capitalist encirclement” was eventually followed by a slew of geopolitical doctrines Russia embarked on to justify its clash with Western nations. The context of this feud was yet redefined as the class struggle gave way to a civilizational stiff between states as well as political and military blocs. Russian geopolitics experts now compare the clash of civilizations to the class struggle back in Soviet time, claiming both fall within laws of dialectical materialism. Particularly interesting is here a geopolitical book by Alexander Dugin. His work The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia has been used as a textbook in the Russian military and many educational institutions[24]. The book insists on multiple parallels between Marx’s ideology and geopolitics, where both the unity of international law and opposite forces prevail. There is an apocalyptic clash of civilizations, a perennial struggle between the land and sea empires at play here, according to Dugin. The book stresses that this conflict is a chapter in the “Great War of Continents” that is a “solution to opposite forces” between the land and sea empires[25].

Objectives and principles of active intelligence

With the theory of “capitalist encirclement,” an updated Soviet foreign policy sought to temporarily cease any military offensive to non-military means to undermine capitalist countries. Such methods allegedly fostered an outbreak of uprisings and revolutions. They involved coordinated, offensive, legal and clandestine activities of political, diplomatic, propaganda, intelligence, cultural, and economic nature. The following were outfitted for this purpose:

  • the Communist party; between 1918–1925 it was the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), or RKP(b), and between 1925–1952 known by its name of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks),
  • the government security apparatus[26],
  • the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and its military intelligence agencies[27],
  • the Soviet-penetrated Third International, or the Communist International (Comintern), founded in Moscow on March 2–6, 1919, on the initiative of Vladimir Lenin.[28]

With the new strategy, the Third International occupied a more prominent role as Soviet intelligence outlets were forced to cover their operations or even stop meddling in domestic affairs of other countries. Instead, foreign Communist structures were mobilized[29]. Starting from the 1920s, the Soviet intelligence agency encompassed almost all structures of Comintern into its operations abroad. On August 8, 1921, Soviet Russian security outlets signed an intelligence agreement with the Comintern[30]. What served a pivotal role in this new strategy was “active intelligence.” Probably this term was first used in 1921 in the Red Army Intelligence Directorate while its operations were described in detail in a brochure titled Model of intelligence operations by Alexander Kuk (1886–1932), a senior officer of the Red Army Intelligence Directorate[31]. Kuk’s work served as a blueprint for counterintelligence training manuals that were published in 1924 by Stanislav Turlo[32] (1889–1942) and I. P. Zaldat (no personal details available). Citing Kuk’s book, Turlo argued that any war continued domestic and foreign policy of a state, state coalition, or social classes. So it was vital to conduct intelligence operations facilitating a struggle of one social class with another in all domains possible. Any state should have military, economic, political, and diplomatic intelligence services. Another important type is psychological intelligence that many tend to overlook, according to the authors of the work. They also claim intelligence is a distinct type of armed force whose means go much further than a bayonet, bullet, or any other projectile. Intelligence can successfully achieve what is unattainable for infantry, cavalry, air forces, or fleet. The chief mission is to inflict severe damage on the enemy and defeat it by all means and methods. Intelligence operations are dialectical through the two intertwined types:

  • passive intelligence measures (gathering as much information as possible and revealing classified plans and actions of a hostile actor).
  • active intelligence measures (scrapping hostile plans by undermining an international position of a hostile force, disrupting or destroying its military, economic, and political system, and by crippling its diplomacy). Active intelligence measures bear the hallmark of terror seeking to corrupt senior political and military officials, eliminate those statesmen or public figures whose activity would compromise the Soviet Union[33].

Table 1. Role of active intelligence measures in Soviet intelligence operations

Type of intelligence activity Active intelligence measures
Military intelligence Introducing intelligence operatives into military staffs and institutions to compromise them, notably in wartime or before, causing panic, poisoning food and water to spread communicable diseases, infecting soldiers with sexually transmitted diseases, eliminating or compromising military leaders, sabotaging transportation and supplies, staging armed uprisings.
Economic intelligence Damaging the state’s economy, devaluing exchange rates, upsetting domestic and foreign state loans, buying and exporting cultural property and works of art, causing constraints to the production and distribution of commodities, inspiring economic fluctuations.
Political intelligence Destabilizing the political situation and damaging the military’s morale through agitation and propaganda, undermining trust in the government, promoting a defeatist attitude, deepening social discontent through fake news and rumors, compromising state officials, staging and backing unrest (strikes, plots, and riots), igniting national and ethnic feuds (separatism), providing financial assistance to anti-government organizations, compromising the ruling party, inciting feuds between its members and creating an atmosphere of disbelief.
Diplomacy Promoting Soviet-friendly views and ideas, stirring tensions between allies and neutral states, using propaganda and agitation to discredit those diplomats whose activities foster foreign governments, slandering diplomats and damaging their reputation, or even eliminating them.
Psychological intelligence Monitoring lifestyles, viewpoints, moods, customs, traditions, moral features, financial and family situation of diplomats, state officials, politicians, business people, artists, and criminals, grasping national aspirations and ethnic antagonisms, inciting to racial, class, and social hatred, backing separatist and secessionist efforts, doing research into class contradictions, provoking mutual hostility, generating a class struggle, damaging unity, and demoralizing people and the military.

Source: own elaboration based on: С.С. Турло, И.П. Залдат, Шпионаж, In: Антология истории спецслужб. Россия 1905–1924, Москва 2007, pp. 422–428.

Turlo’s textbook was reprinted in 2007 on the initiative of Aleksandr Zdanovich, a Russian scholar and researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences and the FSB Academy. He is the founder and long-time chairman of the Society for the Study of the History of the Homeland Special Services, which combines historical knowledge with extensive operational and analytical experience[34].

80 percent of the Comintern operations were classified. In practice, those bearing the brunt of running them were some major institutions that were formally included in the Comintern, but in fact reported to Soviet intelligence outlets[35]. These were:

  • a first secret section within the Comintern, created on August 8, 1920, that was then transformed into an underground section. In June 1921, it was replaced by the International Liaison Section that included some sections in charge of liaison, finance, propaganda work, and codes. Between 1935 and 1943, the International Liaison Department was known as the Liaison Section of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. It worked under the auspices of the Joint State Political Directorate (OGPU) and the Intelligence Directorate of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. It conducted illegal operations, including:
    • investigating into foreign political and military structures,
    • creating a liaison system with Communist leaders outside the Soviet Union and then with Moscow,
    • providing personal, military, financial, and technical assistance to these Communist parties,
    • creating false identities through forged visas, passports, stamps, and others,
    • establishing front organizations (cultural, political, economic, or religious) for Soviet-inspired propaganda, disinformation, and agitation purposes,
    • staging an armed uprising in capitalist states.

Those in charge of the department were Soviet intelligence officers[36].

  • The Committee on Illegal Activities at the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) was established on December 19, 1922, and worked until early 1925. It conceived strategic and operational projects to destabilize capitalist countries from the inside. The Committee developed agitation and propaganda techniques for Western armies and infiltrated legal non-Communist organizations and state institutions. It drew up military intelligence blueprints, trained armed militias, coordinated the work of clandestine printing offices, and picked target groups for propaganda content. The Committee involved members of the Revolutionary Military Council, or the supreme military authority of Soviet Russia, and officers of security services, including Meier Trilisser, who was working under Felix Dzerzhinsky in the foreign intelligence department of the Soviet secret police or Cheka and then became head of the foreign directorate of the OGPU[37].
  • The Committee on the Army Work at the Organization Department of the ECCI was created on December 11, 1922. In November 1924, it was replaced with the Permanent War (Anti-War or Military) Committee, also referred to as Committee M (“Militaristic”). It was in charge of subversion in capitalist armies and fleets, promoting efforts towards a revolutionary struggle, and organizing proletarian self-defense against “instigators.” In addition, the Committee offered training schemes for Communist employees in educational institutions and military academies in the Soviet Union. The body included Józef Unszlicht, who served as deputy head of Cheka (1921–1923), member of the Revolutionary Military Council (1923–1925), and chief of supply for the Red Army[38].

Using African American population in Comintern concepts of the world Communist revolution

This meant that the Comintern was to serve Soviet foreign policy goals by proclaiming the universality of Communist ideology and imposing it by force on other countries. The Marxist-Leninist ideology was purely instrumental. It was just a rationale for the Kremlin’s pursuits for world supremacy while serving as an effective tool for indoctrination, according to Marx’s claim that a theory itself also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Earlier Russian imperial slogans––“unification of Russian lands” under the “white tsar” or “defending dissidents”––eventually gave way to the ideology of Marx and Lenin, which lent legitimacy to the Soviet expansion under the pretense of shielding “the oppressed[39].” The Communist ideology became increasingly popular with the liberals, workers, and the poorest, who believed in better living conditions and “social justice” they defined as the “right to considerable social welfare.” Lenin predicted an economic recession that would streamline the efforts of fellow Communists to influence vast social groups. The Great Depression of 1929–1933 confirmed Lenin’s earlier forecasts. Those that attracted Soviet interest were socialist and nationalist agencies. Through the former, the Soviets sought to consolidate their Communist grip while making use of the latter to ruin social order, an effort that fostered a Communist-inspired revolutionary mood. In developed capitalist states little attention was paid to the fact that the Bolsheviks made use of the Communist ideology for geopolitical purposes, and “workers of the world” were merely a tool for Soviet expansion. What spoke for Soviet Russia was the situation in colonies in Africa and Asia, where the oppressed, who, as Lenin had foreseen, began political efforts in the early 20th century, to eventually turn into a vehicle of revolution. By using indoctrinated colonial communities, the Soviets sought to “smash capitalism through revolution.” Thus they adopted the doctrines of Marx and Lenin to an array of geopolitical interests Soviet Russia had at that time and the situation in Asia, Africa, the Middle, and the Far East––so where no developed industry existed at that time, but a robust working-class prevailed. Accordingly, Soviet “revolutionists” were asked to team with the “bourgeois nationalists.” In colonial state, the theory of Marxism-Leninism was promoted as a path towards a “national liberation struggle” against the “imperialist” colonial oppression. Lenin transposed the analysis of capitalism from the advanced capitalist economies in Europe and North America to the dependent colonial countries. The first step to topple capitalism was destabilizing colonies by fomenting revolution and staging riots. The Comintern leadership directed Communists in colonial countries to support the “national-revolutionary” movement[40].

The Bolshevik elites first notched up a fomenting potential of U.S. racial and ethnic division in 1920, an idea that was reflected in the Preliminary Draft of Thesis on the National and Colonial Questions, published by Lenin on June 5, 1920, and the Resolution on the National and Colonial Question, adopted by the Second World Congress of the Comintern, held in Petrograd and Moscow from July 19 to August 7, 1920. The Comintern leadership ordered Communist parties to use in their propaganda and agitation in any cases where capitalist states violated the rights of national and ethnic minorities. It claimed it was only the Soviet system that could bring “equality” to all through the unification of the “proletariat” and “working masses” in their joint strife against the “bourgeoisie.” Furthermore, Communist parties were instructed to throw support to all revolutionary movements in colonies and countries inhabited by allegedly oppressed ethnic and national minorities, in particular, African Americans in the United States[41].

ECCI’s reports on the Comintern work between April 1925 and January 1926 highlighted the goal of the Soviet Union: to establish a worldwide organization to incite a world revolution involving the 400-million Black population of African and North America. The Comintern believed the United States to be a fertile ground for such a structure due to a considerable community of African Americans, who would back left-wing workers’ rights organizations. Another factor that nurtured subversive operations towards African Americans, the documents read, was their deteriorating financial condition and competitiveness on the job market that brought about a wage drop and sparked hostility among White workers. So Communist activists told workers that the capitalist U.S. government was to blame for their poor living standards. The idea was to bring Black and White workers, poor farmers, and tenants around a common interracial proletarian movement. Its authors claimed progress in establishing the American Negro Labor Congress in October 1925, a non-partisan committee. The Comintern instructed it to convene a world conference of Black workers and farmers that would unite exploited colonial populations to overthrow imperialism[42]. However, the officialdom of the American Federation of Labor was hostile to this stance, accusing the Committee of fostering race hatred into the lives of Black Americans. Its president, William Green (1873–1952), cautioned Black unionists against staging a revolution against the U.S. government, saying it would not be a solution to social ills[43].

The fiasco of an anti-capitalist movement eventually made the Soviet Union rethink its scheme. The plan of using African Americans for the Kremlin’s geopolitical agenda was authored by Nikolai Nasonov (1902–1938), a member of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the head of the Negro Bureau at the Eastern Secretariat[44]. The Bureau was established on December 25, 1928, and was transformed into the Negro Section at the Eastern Secretariat in September 1929. It focused on matters concerning the life of Black people in the United States and colonies. It also conducted propaganda and agitation work[45]. In his article The Negro Problem in the United States of America, which was published in August 1928, Nasonov made a geopolitical, economic, military, and demographic assessment of Soviet foreign policy. He wrote African Americans could be a tool for fomenting the situation in the United States while inspiring the situation in colonies. According to him, the Black population of the Black Belt should be considered a “nation” to eventually create a “national liberation movement” to undermine American imperialism. Nasonov pointed to Joseph Stalin’s definition of nation in his major work Marxism and the National Question, saying agitation and propaganda efforts should rely upon the Leninist interpretation of the right to self-determination, or the right to political independence[46]. It was the nation’s “full right to secession,” preceded by a nationwide referendum[47]. Nasonov’s stance was reflected in the 1928 and 1930 Resolutions of the Comintern. These two documents, drafted on the initiative of Joseph Stalin, outlined the situation of the Black population in the United States along with the means of its radicalization. The majority of the African American population (86 percent) lived in the Southern states; of this number 74 percent lived in the rural districts, according to the two documents. Approximately one-half of these rural dwellers lived in the so-called Black Belt, in which they constituted more than 50 percent of the entire population.

Map 1

Black Belt area

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/Southern_counties_with_a_majority_African-American_population_in_2000.png

Map 2

African American population in the Black Belt in 1900, United States Census Bureau.

Source: Proportion of Negro to Total Population at the Twelfth Census 1900. United States Bureau of the Census. – Frontispiece of Negroes in the United States (1904), Bulletin 8 of United States Bureau of the Census, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Census_1900_Percent_Black.png#/media/File:Census_1900_Percent_Black.png, Public Domain.

Many Black people found jobs in industry and migrated to cities. Between 1915 and 1930, some 1.3 million African Americans from the South migrated to northern, midwestern, and western states, mostly to escape racism, find a job, and seek better education for children. A robust “working class” was born whose members could realize what was named as “revolutionary activity.” The great mass of the Black population was subject to the most ruthless exploitation and persecution, which should make it a revolutionary force capable of joining a proletarian struggle against capitalism[48]. The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) had its top task to mobilize the widest possible masses against the various forms of oppression. So Communist activists were said to defend the rights of an oppressed minority struggle in its for liberation. One of the most important missions of the Communist Party consists in the struggle for complete and real equality for Black people, mostly through propaganda and agitation. The far-reaching goal was to recognize the right to self-determination in the Black Belt. Agitation for the right of self-determination overlapped with demands to improve the life situation of African Americans and to equip them with the same privileges as the White population to sweep away the remnants of slavery, racism, and “white chauvinism[49].” According to the Comintern resolution (October 26, 1930), propaganda efforts for the African Americans’ right to self-determination are not enough in the struggle to free the country’s Black population. The document encourages Black Communists to stage mass actions, such as demonstrations, strikes, and tax-boycott-movements[50]. It was advised to bring together Communist party strictures, trade unions, and abolitionist organizations in the South[51] to eventually stage an armed revolution that the CPUSA deemed most efficient for achieving political goals. Earl Russell Browder (1891–1973), the leader of the CPUSA, agreed with that, saying Black people of the Black Belt could only be liberated by toppling the regime of White landlords and capitalists[52]. The Resolution of October 30, 1930, called for immediate measures for the organization of “proletarian and peasant self-defense” against the Ku-Klux-Klan[53]. Comintern leaders paradoxically found it useful for provocations staged by clandestine structures and Soviet intelligence services, as read in the resolution: “Even some relatively insignificant acts of the Ku-Klux-Klan bandits in the Black Belt can become the occasion of important political movements, provided the Communists can organize the resistance of the indignant Negro masses.” In such cases, mass movements of this kind can easily develop into real rebellion. This rests on the fact that––as Lenin said––“Every act of national oppression calls forth resistance on the part of the masses of the population, and the tendency of every act of resistance on the part of oppressed peoples is the national uprising [54].”

Map 3

The African American population in the Black Belt region in 1930

Source: https://portalstatystyczny.pl/afroamerykieta-w-usa/, [accessed: August 23, 2021].

The basic demands of the struggle in the “Black Belt” were identified as the following (the Comintern Resolution on the Negro Question in the United States of October 26, 1930):

  • confiscation of the landed property of the White landowners and capitalists for the benefit of the African American farmers,
  • establishment of the State Unity of the Black Belt, where Black population form majority of the population[55]. Some CPUSA members insisted on the establishment of a Negro Soviet republic, with its highly Soviet-modeled institutions[56].
  • right of self-determination, that is the complete and unlimited right of Black people to exercise governmental authority in the entire territory of the Black Belt, as well as to decide upon the relations between their territory and other nations, particularly the United States. Other ethnic, racial, and national minorities living in the Black Belt were subordinated to new government authorities in the territory[57].

Implementing the Kremlin’s guidelines

The Soviets used both economic and social hardship of African Americans to convict them to form a separate nation seeking to gain independence because it is only through statehood or autonomy that the Black population is capable of putting forward its interests. Thus Soviet intelligence outlets used the slogans of “the right to self-determination” and “the struggle for equality.” As in colonies, the Soviet Union sought to mastermind a “national liberation movement” to destabilize the United States from the inside and cripple its territorial integrity. Yet such movements identify political autonomy with the territory; for multinational states such as the United States, this could even mean disintegration. The Kremlin was behind these operations, according to William Odell Nowell, a member of the Detroit branch of the CPUSA (1929–1936). In 1929, he took part in consultations with the Negro Bureau at the Eastern Secretariat[58]. He said Moscow had devised a plan to establish a Soviet-controlled breakaway “republic” within U.S. borders. Favorable conditions, including an economic crisis or U.S. involvement in a war against Japan, would foster the creation of such a statelet. Enjoying social discontent, the Soviets sought to stage all-out strikes and then a revolution[59]. Nowell said any attempt to put this plan into practice would provoke bloody race riots and persecution of Black people in the South[60].

That in charge of executing the orders as laid out in the resolutions was the CPUSA that stalinized in the early 1930s[61]. Its members worked together with Soviet intelligence outlets to actively recruit new operatives and verify intelligence. The CPUSA, through its secret structure involving organizations and individuals, took part in Soviet-orchestrated operations to manufacture fake passports or maintain a secret liaison system. Some prominent figures of clandestine Communist structures in the United States––Sándor Goldberger (1894–1990), Stjepan Mesaroš AKA Steve Nelson (1903–1993), and Jacob Golos (1889–1943)––liaised between Soviet intelligence services and their spy ring on American soil[62]. One of the tasks of the CPUSA was to consolidate oppressed racial and ethnic communities around Communist-led non-partisan organizations. Soviet operatives penetrated social, political, and religious organizations through what was known as “transmission belts.” Behind these structures was also Wilhelm Münzenberg (1889–1940), a brilliant German Communist political activist, referred to by some as the “Red Millionaire[63].” Speaking at the Sixth Comintern Congress on July 20, 1928, in Moscow, Münzenberg set forth their goals and mission. He argued to deploy a range of propaganda techniques to interest apathetic and indifferent workers, who take no part in political life, to join the Communist movement. The idea was then to set up somewhat like a “solar system” consisting of smaller entities and committees orbiting around the communist party and serving the role of a “transmission belt” for the Kremlin and its geopolitical interests.[64]

More details on Communist front organizations within the African American population were found in FBI papers and studies. They said the CPUSA was inspired by the Comintern to establish the following organizations:

  • African Blood Brotherhood,
  • American Negro Labor Congress,
  • League of Struggle for Negro Rights,
  • National Negro Congress[65].

FBI and U.S. federal documents show that those that pulled their strings were Soviet intelligence agencies assisted by operatives or Moscow-trained U.S. Communist activists. An intriguing case study is that of the American Negro Labor Congress established in Chicago on October 25, 1925, to replace the African Blood Brotherhood. Its leader was Lovett Fort-Whiteman (1889–1939), a graduate of the Moscow-based International Lenin School[66]. It was founded in March 1925 as a branch of the Marx and Engels Institute. In fact, it secretly served as a section of the Comintern. Its first principal was Nikolai Bukharin, a member of the Politburo, replaced by Klaudia Kirsanova once he was removed from the Comintern. Initially, the course took a year and half to complete before being extended to three years in 1928[67]. William Odell Nowell, who completed a two-year curriculum at the International Lenin Schoo, described it as follows: “Our theoretical studies consisted of Marxian economics; Leninism, which is called philosophy there; trade unionism, that is trade unionism strike strategy; labor history; the history of the two internationals; the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We studied how to dismantle the weapons of the leading countries, that is their main weapons, such as rifles and machine guns. I also studied secret service, codes. We studied strategy, beginning with the organization of a fraction––a shop fraction––clear up to the control of a trade union, or mass organization, and developed the political parallel along with it. That is, the ideological development of the people under the influence of these fractions, and when a certain strategy applies at a certain time. So hence we studied the details of how to develop street fights. I mean, how to do barricade fighting, how to seize control of a city, the most strategic, economically and technically strategic points, and so on (…). I spent some time in the Red Army myself, but I was just making a practical study of the Army, and doing international propaganda work; that is, lecturing and so on[68].”

Many African Americans studied also at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, established in 1921[69]. Roman Zambrowski (1909–1977), a Polish Communist activist and member of the Politburo of the Polish United Workers’ Party, confirmed that African American students had enrolled at the International Lenin School. In his memoirs, he recollected the first months at the School, when he shared a large, bright room with three American Communists, of which “two were white and one was of African descent. I was given a warm welcome and I had no problems communicating with them. The youngest left Yugoslavia many years ago and easily learned Russian; the middle went to the United States before the war, but his Russian language skills were impeccable, while the Negro studied it diligently. They all studied in English[70].”

Soviet intelligence outlets had their operatives in the American Negro Labor Congress in addition to its Moscow-trained leaders: Lovett Fort-Whitman and William Odell Nowell. In 1929, Kitty Harris joined the Congress; she worked as a secretary for the Soviet trade monopoly Amtorg in New York. The company was founded on May 24, 1924. Between 1924 and 1933, before the Soviet Union had opened a permanent embassy in the United States, Amtorg served diplomatic and trade purposes as well as it was a front for Comintern espionage and propaganda operations in the United States[71]. In 1931, Harris, a propaganda officer, was recruited to Soviet foreign intelligence by Abram Eingorn (1899–1955), a member of the Young Communist International and a Soviet intelligence operative at the Foreign Department of the Joint State Political Directorate[72]. Kitty Harris, or Kathrine Harrison (May 24, 1887 – October 6, 1966), was born in London to Natan, a Jewish shoemaker from Białystok. In 1908, her family migrated to Winnipeg, Canada, where she completed four years of primary school. She began to work in a clothing factory as a seamstress, joining its trade union. In 1923, she moved to the United States. In Chicago, Harris became secretary of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers local. She joined the Communist Party of the USA. In 1925, Harris married Earl Browder, a prominent CPUSA functionary and later party leader whom she followed to Moscow in October 1927 and later to Shanghai. She began working for a clandestine section of the Red International of Labor Unions (Profintern). In 1929, she returned to Moscow and then to New York. In the U.S., Harris worked for the American Negro Labor Congress. After divorcing Browder in April 1932, she went to Berlin where she worked as a liaison officer at a rezidentura of the Foreign Department of the Joint State Political Directorate. Her code name was identified as “Gypsy.” She worked for clandestine Soviet intelligence offices in Prague, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. She was also a liaison officer at the Cambridge Five. In 1937, Harris received Soviet citizenship. In 1942–1946, she worked in the rezidentura of the First Directorate of NKVD-NKGB in Mexico. Between 1952 and 1954, she underwent treatment at the special psychiatric hospital of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. She died in Gorky after she retired from active service[73].

The Soviet Union aspired to make the American Negro Labor Congress a mass organization to gather Black people under the political banner of the CPUSA. It was through agitation and propaganda targeting legal discrimination of African Americans and lynching to terrorize and control Black people. The League of Struggle for Negro Rights was organized by the Communist Party in 1930 as the successor to the American Negro Labor Congress. It was headed by James Mercer Langston Hughes (1901–1967), an American poet, social activist, and columnist for Communist-affiliated magazines[74]. In fact, its president was Harry Haywood (Haywood Hall “Black Bolshevik,” 1898–1985), who studied at the International Lenin School and the Communist University of the Toilers of the East. His military career included service in the Regimental Commissar in the XV International Brigade, siding with Soviet-backed Spanish Communists[75]. In his major work Negro Liberation, he backed Stalin’s 1948 concept of national self-determination[76]. According to Haywood, the position of the book was not new, but a reaffirmation of the revolutionary position developed at the Sixth Comintern Congress in 1928. The heart of this position, he believed, was that the problem was fundamentally a question of an oppressed nation with full rights of self-determination. Haywood emphasized the “revolutionary essence” of the struggle for Black equality arising from the fact that the special oppression of Black people is the main prop of the system of “imperialist domination” over the entire working class and the masses of exploited American people. “Therefore the struggle for Black liberation is a part of the struggle for proletarian revolution. It is the historic task of the working-class movement, as it advances on the road to socialism, to solve the problem of land and freedom of the Black masses,” he argued[77]. The League’s agenda was fully in line with what was outlined in the Comintern resolution. Its demands encompassed social, economic, and political equality of African Americans, the right of self-determination of all peoples in the Black Belt, and confiscation of the landed property of “White capitalists” for the benefit of farmers and tenants[78]. The League was involved in intensive propaganda work referring to the Great Depression of the 1930s. It regarded the anger of African Americans against structural and economic inequalities. The Russian agency brought to the focus issues such as police brutality, poverty, unemployment, and no access to schooling. An ideal opportunity to radicalize moods was mass funerals of people killed in riots or strikes. At a funeral of Chicago workers on August 3, 1931, activists distributed 20,000 Communist and anti-state leaflets. Petitions and resolutions also came in handy. On January 20, 1933, a petition was filed with the police department of the city of Chicago. It accused the police of “terrorist practices” targeting African American and White workers[79]. In addition to propaganda and agitation work, there were multiple instances of provocation and violence. More details came from Joseph Zack Kornfeder (1898–1963), a founding member of the Communist Party of USA and Comintern representative to South America. In New York, Chicago, and other cities, the CPUSA massively attacked privately held restaurants that refused service to African Americans. A group of White and Black Communist activists started a fight in a targeted restaurant. As events unfolded, Communist militias, whose members would wait outside, came to the rescue. These actions were primarily intended to exacerbate the contradiction between African-Americans and Whites and to provoke possible retaliatory actions that could escalate the conflict[80].

Using racism and racial conflicts to undermine the American reputation

The Soviet Union used its operatives to sabotage the internal situation and conduct an array of propaganda and disinformation activities to bring the United States into disrepute. A good example is here the case of the Scottsboro Boys. On March 25, 1931, the line between Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee, had nine Black youths aged between 13 and 20 who were riding ticket-free on a freight train. A fight broke out between the White and Black groups back then. The train was stopped at Paint Rock, some 22 miles off Scottsboro, and the African American teenagers were accused of beating and raping two white women. They were sentenced to death, then changed to life imprisonment. The case attracted much interest in U.S. media outlets, becoming a symbol of systemic racial discrimination in the South[81].

The Scottsboro case interested the Soviets, who used it to achieve a set of political goals. At a meeting of the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks, or RKP(b) on April 1, 1932, Joseph Stalin ordered fellow Communists to develop a campaign to protest the death penalty[82]. The agency behind was International Red Aid, a social service organization established in 1922 to the directive of the Fourth World Congress of the Comintern. It rendered material and moral aid to Communist activities suffering from “terror against the revolutionary movement.” In fact, International Red Aid was a useful instrument of Comintern agitation and propaganda; instead of providing aid to “class war” political prisoners and their families, it financed Communist parties around the world[83]. International Red Aid claimed national affiliates in many countries. It worked with Soviet intelligence agencies and received financial assistance from Moscow. This fact was confirmed by the testimony of Vladimir Piatnitsky, a son of Osip Piatnitsky (1882–1938), head of the International Department of the Communist International. “The OGPU has recently taken some tasks from the International Liaison Department, in particular activities against anyone who in any way disagreed with Stalin. The most delicate mission of the International Liaison Department consisted in distributing money intended for Communist parties alongside their propaganda work and false front organizations, which were the League for Democracy Defense, the Association of Friends of the Soviet Union, and the International Organization for Aid to Revolutionary and many alike that came in handy when Moscow began forming a popular front. No Communist party could afford this to happen. Moscow believed it was its duty to cover between 90 and 95 percent of Communist party spending. Money in the amount set by Stalin’s Politburo came from the Soviet state budget through the Department for International Communications[84].”

Soviet-made propaganda campaign sought to perpetuate worldwide the image of the United States as a “racist” and “reactionary” state. The Soviet Union was labeled “progressive” and “modern,” a state that defends peace and protects the oppressed. In Soviet propaganda, Scottsboro boys were portrayed as revolutionaries and allies of the first state building “a socialist society.” The idea was that any active expression of solidarity with the detainees would become an alternative way of showing support for Bolshevism and the project of building socialism under the auspices of the Soviet Union. Moscow painted the death sentence to the Scottsboro defendants as escalated violence against all Black workers, pointing at an allegedly capitalist plot to start an “imperialist war” against the peacekeeping Soviet Union. The campaign covered the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Comintern and local Communist parties used their structures alongside a vast network of organizations, editorial offices, and associations[85]. In the United States, International Labor Defense, a legal advocacy organization established in 1925 as the American section of the Comintern’s International Red Aid network, prominently participated in defense through marches, press conferences, fundraising, and coordinating other operations to “reveal the system of terror” that the organization identified with state institutions. Among those who expressed solidarity with the Scottsboro boys were Russian writer and columnist Maxim Gorky, Russian revolutionary and member of the World Committee Against War and Fascism Elena Stasova, American Communist activists Lovett Fort-Whitman and George Padmore, and American poet James Mercer Langston Hughes[86]. In addition to propaganda, violence was used. With the defendants’ execution set for July 10, 1931, the Red Aid executive issued the first international appeal from Moscow. During the summer, as more European letters and telegrams reached the Alabama authorities and the White House, demonstrators broke windows at the U.S. diplomatic and trade missions in Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Leipzig, and Cologne. A global wave of protests ensured, reaching from California to Sydney, from Montreal to Cape Horn, and from Shanghai to Buenos Aires. In consequence, the Scottsboro defendants were ultimately saved from execution by the Supreme Court of Alabama, but they languished in prison for years[87]. The Soviet involvement in the Scottsboro case eventually made the country vastly popular. Front organizations rendering legal assistance made Communist-affiliated bodies more acceptable for Western nations, notably in less developed countries, where anti-U.S. resentment continued to grow. Through the use of front organization against racial discrimination, Fascism, and National Socialism, Soviet intelligence operatives created favorable conditions for recruiting new agents[88].

The Soviet-controlled film industry was also used for propaganda and disinformation to bring the United States into disrepute[89]. In 1931, Mezhrabpomfilm (Кинематографическое акционерное общество «Межрабпомфильм), a German-Soviet film studio, offered to make a film titled Black and White, inspired by Mayakovsky’s poem of the same title. The film’s theme was the struggle of African American workers in the United States[90]. As revealed in recently disclosed Soviet documents, Mezhrabpomfilm, an allegedly independent film studio, was in fact controlled by the Comintern and the Communist party. The Department for Agitation and Propaganda of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Executive Committee of the Communist International approved all themes and scripts, which was their top-secret mission[91]. The company had its offices in Leningrad, Moscow, Tiflis, Baku, and Berlin. Some 70 percent of its films and plays were used for propaganda purposes outside the Soviet Union[92].

The proposed film cast for Black and White was selected by a group of African Americans led by Louise Thompson Patterson (1901–1999), asked by James Ford (1893–1957), an American Communist activist, who attended the Sixth Comintern Congress in Moscow on behalf of the CPUSA on July 17–September 1, 1928. U.S. left-wing newspapers widely discussed the fact that filmmakers, including Langston Hughes and other Communist thinkers, arrived in the Soviet Union, which the Soviet propaganda apparatus used to perpetuate the Soviet reputation of the defender of the oppressed. The film crew suddenly stopped working once ordered by the Politburo of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks); prominent U.S. businesspeople, who helped industrialize the Soviet Union, found the project highly offensive and perilous to the stability of the United States[93].

A man who intervened in this case in the Kremlin was Hugh Lincoln Cooper (1865–1937), an American colonel and civil engineer, known for construction supervision of a number of hydroelectric power plants in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Egypt. Between 1927 and 1932, he supervised the construction of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station. In July 1932, he appealed to Vyacheslav Molotov, chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union. What was told at the meeting is known from a secret memo Molotov handed to Stalin on July 31, 1932. On the agenda was the issue of thirty African Americans who arrived in the Soviet Union to produce Black and White. In an hour-long talk, Cooper said that making this film a vehicle of anti-U.S. propaganda would irrevocably impair U.S.-Soviet relations. The engineer said he would quit his job in the Soviet Union if work on the film continued[94]. The Kremlin sought to maintain diplomatic ties with Washington to get access to U.S. technology and know-how. Work on the film eventually stopped, a move that the U.S. Department of State considered a success[95]. Although the Soviets sought to hide the truth on why the project was halted, some members of the film crew disbelieved the Kremlin’s official statement, chiding on it and blaming the Soviet Communist party for backing “U.S. imperialism” and “betraying a progressive ideology[96].”

The Kremlin’s policy towards African Americans was merely instrumental. It was far from liberating them, serving Moscow’s geopolitical interests instead. When the Soviet Union deemed little fruitful cooperation with the United States, its top officials would sacrifice African Americans to reap some benefits.


To sum up, in the 1920s and the 1930s, Soviet security authorities developed a raft of methods towards ethnic and national minorities they then employed to sow discord. This topic will be covered in more detail in the next part of this report. Operative means and methods were based on the following:

  • using country- or time-specific conditions, contradictions, and conflicts or generating new strives (racism and racial segregation in the United States),
  • unlocking the potential for rallies through a network of radicalized organizations of opposed political background (African American communities, the Ku Klux Klan, etc.),
  • setting up a network of influential, albeit seemingly independent, organizations, including the International Labor Defense,
  • selecting their top officials, in particular for agitation, propaganda, and armed struggle,
  • curbing ties with intelligence services and exploiting ideology-related issues (Communists, pacifists, abolitionists),
  • taking social and political momentum (workers’ strikes or funerals), referring to such values as equality, freedom, democracy, and liberation, to be filled with any content,
  • taking action to destabilize the domestic situation in the United States, bring it into disrepute worldwide, and to deflect its attention from important foreign policy issues (campaign to defend the Scottsboro boys, making films to embolden the phenomenon of racism and racial discrimination in the United States worldwide).

Despite the enormous difficulties in combating the subversive activities carried out among African Americans by the Soviet secret services and related entities, the U.S. government was able to successfully neutralize certain ventures. What has proved efficient was a firm stance combined with major economic sanctions to cripple the Kremlin’s interests.

[1] Hereinafter: CPUSA.

[2] Интервью телеканалу «Россия». Владимир Путин ответил на вопросы журналиста телеканала «Россия 1» , Павла Зарубина, http://kremlin.ru/events/news/news/news/news/news/news/news2018

[3] See also: D. Gierasińska, Wiarygodność wypowiedzi Władimira Putina na temat relacji rosyjsko-ukraińskich: studium corocznych konferencji prasowych, „Refleksje” 2020, No. 21, pp. 51–69.

[4] Racism is “the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another” while racial discrimination is “any discrimination against any individual on the basis of their skin color, or racial or ethnic origin to occur because of overt prejudice, hostility or negative feelings held by someone about a racialized person or group.” M. Duda, Przestępstwa z nienawiści. Studium prawnokarne i kryminologiczne, Olsztyn 2016, pp. 26–27.

[5] O. Калугин, Вид с Лубянки. „Дело” бывшего генерала КГБ. Месяцпервый, Москва 1990, pp. 34–35.

[6] Ch. Andrew, O. Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of Its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev, New York 1990, pp. 22. Cf. B.B. Fisher, The Paris Operations of the Russian Imperial Police, Central Intelligence Agency 1997, pp. 5–6.

[7] Sergei Vladimirovich Mironenko – Reserve Colonel, intelligence officer, an electronics engineer and economist,  holder of the doctor’s degree in history, speaks English and Chinese. Member of the Association of the Study of the History of Homeland Secret Services in Moscow, a member of the editorial board of the newspaper Самарские Чекисты. After completing education at the KGB’s Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute (Academy of Foreign Intelligence), he stayed in southeastern Asia where he worked as an officer at the First Chief Directorate of the KGB responsible for foreign intelligence missions. In February 1982 he was expelled from Singapore for intelligence activities. Already as a Ph.D. holder, he served as a lecturer on intelligence and counterintelligence at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute. He retired as an army colonel. He is a researcher and journalist interested in cognitive aspects of social awareness, election campaigns, and Soviet-Japanese intelligence competition in the 20th century, see: K. Kraj, Interview with Colonel Dr. Sergey Vladimirovich Mironenko, Retired Officer of Soviet and Russian Civilian Intelligence, “E–Terroryzm” 2017, No. 1 (56), pp. 6-7, Мироненко CB – 70! “Самарские чекисты” 2017, No. 9, p. 3.

[8] Hereafter: USSR.

[9] K. Kraj, Rosyjska wspólnota organów bezpieczeństwa, Kraków–Wrocław 2017, p. 127.

[10] Read more on difficulties in researching secret services: K. Kraj, Badania naukowe nad służbami specjalnymi, „Studia Administracji i Bezpieczeństwa” 2020, No. 8, pp. 171–185.

[11] This study is based on the article Konflikty na tle rasowym jako narzędzie destrukcji Stanów Zjednoczonych w działaniach rosyjskich służb wywiadowczych, published in “Przegląd Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego” in 2020. The first and following parts of this article will be supplemented with new research findings.

[12] In this report, the term “Negro” is used in proper names or in citations. See: M. Łaziński, Murzyn zrobił swoje. Czy Murzyn może odejść? Historia i przyszłość słowa Murzyn w polszczyźnie, „Poradnik Językowy” 2007, No. 4, pp. 47–56, M. Łaziński, Jeszcze o słowie Murzyn i o stereotypach. Po lekturze artykułu Margaret Ohii Mechanizmy dyskryminacji rasowej w systemie języka polskiego, „Przegląd Humanistyczny” 2014, No. 5, pp. 127–141, M. Łaziński, Spory o słowo Murzyn, „Polityka” 2020, No. 21, pp. 70–71.

[13] D. Kingsbury, Separatism and the State, New York 2021, pp. 5–7.

[14] B.R. Wolfman, The Communist Party, Always Out of Step, In: Black Separatism and Social Reality: Rhetoric and Reasons, (ed.) R.L. Hall, D. College, New York 1977, pp. 109–114.

[15] Read more in: R.K. Debo, Revolution and Survival: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia 1917–1918, Toronto 1979, pp. 356–408, 419, T. C. Fiddick, Russia’s Retreat from Poland, 1920. From Permanent Revolution to Peaceful Coexistence, London 1990, J. Jacobson, When the Soviet Union Entered World Politics, London 1994, pp. 2, 283.

[16] Hereafter: the RKP(b).

[17] R. Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, New York 1993, pp. 196, 240 et seq.

[18] Peredyshka (передышка) – 1) a short stop or break, 2) a hiatus in an armed struggle to safely conduct other activities or work, see: Д.Н. Ушаков, Толковый словарь в четырех томах. Том 3: П – Ряшка, Москва 1939, p. 125.

[19] В.И. Ленин, Тези сы доклада о тактике РКП, In: В.И. Ленин и Коммунистический Интернационал, Москва 1970, pp. 267–272, В.И. Ленин, Доклад о тактике РКП, In: В.И. Ленин. Полное собрание сочинений. Vol. 44. Июнь 1921– март 1922, Москва 1974, pp. 34–54.

[20] R.L. Garthoff, Ideological Concepts in Soviet Foreign Policy, „Problems of Communism” 1953, No. 5, pp. 3–4.

[21] E. Topitsch, Stalins Krieg: die sowjetische Langzeit strategie gegen den Westen als rationale Machtpolitik, Herford 1990, K. Grygajtis, Józef Stalin oraz sowiecka geopolityka i geostrategia lat 1924–1953, Nysa 2011, pp. 10–18.

[22] Г.А. Деборин, Первые международные акты Советского государства и его внешняя политика в годы иностранной интервенции и гражданской войны (1917-1922 гг.) Стенограммапу бличной лекции, прочитанной 1 июня 1947 года в Лекционном зале в Москве, Москва 1947, p. 3.

[23] M. Kornat, Program czy improwizacja? Idee polityki zagranicznej państwa sowieckiego, „Dzieje Najnowsze” 2017, No. 49 (4), pp. 97–112.

[24] P. Eberhardt, Koncepcje geopolityczne Aleksandra Dugina, „Przegląd Geograficzny” 2010, No. 82, p. 236.

[25]А.Л. Яанов, Русскаяидеа. От Николая I до Путина. Книга 3 (1990–2000), Москва 2015, pp.359–360. Read more: J. Potulski, Współczesne kierunki rosyjskiej myśli geopolitycznej: między nauką, ideologicznym dyskursem a praktyką, Gdańsk 2010, pp. 275–292.

[26] It was in particular the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage under the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR (Всероссийская чрезвычайная комиссия по борьбе с контрреволюцией и саботажем при СНК РСФСР, ЧК, ВЧК), which was replaced by the State Political Directorate under the NKVD of the RSFSR on February 2, 1922 (Государственное политическое управление при НКВД РСФСР, ГПУ НКВД РСФСР). After the official proclamation of the Soviet Union on December 30, 1922, the Joint State Political Directorate was formed from the State Political Directorate of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on November 15, 1923. It was reincorporated as the Main Directorate of State Security (GUGB) of the NKVD on June 10, 1934 (Главное управление государственной безопасности НКВД СССР). See: А.И. Колпакиди, Энциклопедия секретных служб России, Москва 2003, pp. 196–250.

[27] The Soviet military intelligence agency, established on October 21, 1918, by the secret order signed by Leon Trotsky, People’s Commissar of Military Affairs, as the Registration Agency of the Field Headquarters of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. In 1921 it was reorganized as the Intelligence Board of the Red Army within the Second Department of the General Staff of the Red Army. As a result of reorganization in 1925, it was known as the Fourth Department of the General Staff of the Red Army. In 1937, the Intelligence Board was incorporated into the Seventh Directorate; between April 1937 and late November 1938, it was subordinated to the NKVD-GUGB before becoming part of the Fifth Department of the General Staff. The GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate) was created under its current name in 1942. K. Kraj, Rosyjski wywiad wojskowy, „Secretum. Służby Specjalne, Bezpieczeństwo, Informacja” 2015, No. 1 (2), pp. 77–95, A. Север, А. Колпакиди, ГРУ. Уникальная энциклопедия, Москва 2009.

[28] R. Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, New York 1993, pp. 172-173, 184, А.Ю. Ватлин, Коминтерн: Идеи, решения, судьбы,Москва 2009, p. 37.

[29] И. Симбирцев, Спецслужбы первыхлет СССР, 1923–1939, Москва 2008, pp. 247–250. Of particular interest may be here an instruction of the Politburo of the Central Committee of RKP(b) of February 25, 1925, in which Communist leaders advised to conspire any links between the Red Army’s intelligence and insurgent militias in Central and Eastern Europe and  in the Balkans, see in: Постановление Политбюро ЦК РКП (б) «О Разведупре». 25 Февраля 1925 г., In: Лубянка. Сталин и ВЧК – ГПУ – ОГПУ – НКВД. Архив Сталина. Документы высших органов партийной и государственной власти. Январь 1922 – декабрь 1936, (ed.) А.Н. Яковлев, В.Н. Хаустов, В.П. Наумов, Н.С. Плотникова, Москва 2003, pp. 98–100.

[30] И. Линдер, С. Чуркин, Красная паутина: тайны разведки Коминтерна. 1919–1943, Москва 2005, p. 92.

[31] Alexander Ivanovich Kuk (born January 6, 1886, at Kuriste in Estland guberniia). In 1909, he graduated from St. Petersburg Infantry Officers School and joined the 1stEast Siberian Rifle Regiment as commander of a machine gun company. During the First World War, he was senior errant officer on the staff of the 4th Army Corps at the Nikolayev Military Academy. In 1917, he completed an accelerated course at the academy and was then attached to the staff of the Romanian Front. In March 1918, he volunteered for service with the Red Army. He initially worked for the intelligence section. He was subsequently head of the intelligence section of the Smolensk Defensive Region and the operations section of the staff of the Estonian Army. From June 1919, he was staff officer with the Southern Group of forces of the 7th Red Army, and from July 1919 he was chief of staff of the 15th Red Army. In October 1919, he became acting chief of staff of that same force while in September 1920, he was made commander of the 16th Red Army. In May 1921, he was made assistant chief of the intelligence section of the Main Staff of the Red Army. In August 1923, he became chief of staff of the Western Front and then assistant commander of the Forces of the Leningrad Military District (December 1926).In February 1931, he was made military attache in Japan. He died in Yalta on May 31, 1932. See: П. Селиванов, А.И. Кук, “Военно-исторический журнал” 1975, No. 1, pp. 125–126, CC Войтиков, Отечественные спецслужбы и Красная армия. 1917–1921, Москва 2010, pp. 6–7.

[32] Stanislav Stepanovich Turlo, born on August 19, 1889, in Adutiškis in the Vilna guberniia, was an activist of the revolutionary movement in the Russian Empire and a Soviet activist. In 1919 he became inspector of the Special Department of Cheka at the Councils of People’s Commissars and then served as deputy head of the Special Department of Cheka at the 15thArmy and head of the Special Department at the 2nd Cavalry Army of the Southwestern Front. In 1921 he was chairman of a regional branch of Cheka secret police in Fergana, where he was wounded and sent for treatment. From 1922 to August 1924, he was head of the Counterintelligence Department of the GPU/OGPU in Western Krai. In August 1924 he became head of the district office of the GPU in Vitebsk; until 1926 he worked for the Central Committee of the RKP(b) and the VKP(b). By 1928 he took courses in Marxism at the Communist Academy before joining party structures in the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) and Tatar ASSR (until 1936). In 1936 he became the secretary of the VKP(b) in Novosibirsk. By August 1938 he was in charge of the party district archive in Novosibirsk. He was arrested on August 15, 1938, and sentenced to eight-year imprisonment in September 1941. He served his sentence in a labor camp in Krasnoyarsk, where he died on July 27, 1942, see: А.А. Зданович, Предисловие, In: Антология истории спецслужб. Россия 1905–1924, Москва 2007, pp. 14–17, Справочник по истории Коммунистической партии и Советского Союза 1898–1991, http://www.knowbysight.info/TTT/14329.asp, [accessed: August 23, 2021].

[33] С.С. Турло, И.П. Залдат, Шпионаж, In: Антология истории спецслужб. Россия 1905–1924, Москва 2007, pp. 422–428.

[34] Зданович Александр Александрович, https://myrotvorets.center/criminal/zdanovich-aleksandr-aleksandrovich/ [accessed: August 6, 2021], Александричалекикиксачндровандрикиксачндрон

https://autogear.ru/article/376/629/aleksandr-aleksandrovich-zdanovich—biografiya-istorika/ [accessed: August 6, 2021].

[35] И. Симбирцев, Спецслужбы первых лет СССР. 1923–1939, pp. 251–253, 255.

[36] Г.М. Адибеков, Э.Н. Шахназарова, К.К.Шириня, Организационная структура Коминтерна 1919-1943, Москва 1997, pp. 25–26, 48–50, 74–75, 115–117, 199–117, 159–117, Симбирцев, Спецслужбы первых лет СССР, 1923–1939…, pp. 252, 254, В.Н. Усов, Советская разведка в Китае. 20-е годы XX века, Москва 2002, pp. 36–40.

[37] Г.М. Адибеков, Э.Н. Шахназарова, К.К.Шириня, Организационная структура…, pp. 80–81, A. Диенко, B. Величко, Разведка и кондцразв. Энциклопедический словарь российских спецслужб, Москва 2002, p. 489, Изпротокола № 10 (Особый № 5) заседания Политбюро ЦК РКП (б), In: Политбюро ЦК РКЩб) -ВКП (б) и Коминтерн: 1919-1943 гг. Документы, (ed.) Г.М. Адибеков, Москва 2004, pp. 261–262, E. Kowalczyk, Zasady konspiracji partyjnej – projekt końcowy Komisji ds Nielegalnej Działalności przy Komitecie Wykonawczym Międzynarodówki Komunistycznej (1923–1925), „Dzieje Najnowsze” 2020, No. 52, pp. 233–235.

[38] M. Алексеев, Советская военная разведка в Китае и хроника «китайской смуты»: 1922–1929, Москва 2010, pp. 51, 414–415.

[39] A. Jaskowski, Komintern a przyszła wojna, „Wschód–Orient. Kwartalnik poświęcony sprawom Wschodu” 1939, No. 1,p. 30.

[40] R. Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, New York 1996, pp. 298–299, R. Ulyanovsky, National Liberation. Essays on Theory and Practice, Moscow 1978, pp. 36–84, 327–356, W. Szczerba, Problem kolonializmu w leninowskim programie wyzysku człowieka przez człowieka, „Przegląd Socjologiczny” 1971, No. 24, p. 44, D. Torr, Marxism. Nationality and War, London 1940, pp. 29–37.

[41] В.И. Ленин, Первоначальный набросоктезисов по национальному и колониальному вопросам (для второго съезда Коммунистического интернационала), In: Стратегия и тактика Коминтерна в национально-колониальной революции: напримере Китая, (ed.) П. Миф, Москва 1934, p. 31, 33, Резолюция по национальному и колониальному вопросам, In: Протоколы конгрансовексрансотанкотинкенкотинсанкот. Второй конгресс Коминтерна. Июль-Август 1920 г., (ed.) О. Пятницкий, Д. Мануильский, В. Кнорин, Б. Кун, М. Зоркий, Москва 1934, p .493.

[42] Отчет Исполкома Коминтерна (Апрель 1925 г. – Январь 1926 г.). Составлен секрет ариатом ИККИ, Москва 1926, pp. 393–394.

[43] P.S. Foner, J.S. Allen, American Communism and Black Americans: A Documentary History, 1919–1929, Philadelphia 1987, pp. 116–117, 124.

[44] М.A. Чекалова, К.M. Андерсон, Н.М. Насонов и его Статья «Негритянская проблема в Северо-Американских соединенных Штатах, „Развитие общественных наук российскими студентами” 2017, No. 5, pp. 40–41, М. Пантелеев, Агенты Коминтерна: солдаты мировой революции, Москва 2005, p. 73.

[45] Г.М. Адибеков, Э.Н. Шахназарова, К.К.Шириня, Организационная структура Коминтерна 1919–1943, Москва 1997, p. 155.

[46] М.A. Чекалова, К.M. Андерсон, Н.М. Насонов и его …, pp. 41-43, М. А. Тимофеева, Дискуссии о сущности негритянского вопроса в США вКоминтерне, in Левыеидеологии, движения и организации в истории. Сборник избранных статей участников Девятой Международной конференции молодых ученых и специалистов «Clio-2019», (ed.) А.К. Сорокин, Москва 2019, pp. 167–168, O. Berland, Nasanov and the Comintern’s American Negro Program, „Science and Society” 2001, No. 65, issue 2, pp. 226–228.

[47] W. Materski, Przewrót listopadowy 1917 r. w Rosji a hasło bolszewików prawa narodów do samostanowienia, „Dzieje Najnowsze” 2017, No. 49, issue 4, p. 17.

[48] C.I. Resolution on Negro Question in U.S., „The Communist” 1930, No. 9, issue 1, pp. 48–49.

[49] Ibidem, pp.52–53. Cf. Resolution on the Negro Question in the United States. Final Text Confirmed by the Political Commission of the E.C.C.I., „The Communist” 1931, No. 10, issue 2, pp. 154–156.

[50] Ibidem, p. 161.

[51] Ibidem, p. 166.

[52] E. Browder, What is Communism ?, New York 1936, p. 143. See more on the influence of Marx’s and Lenin’s ideology on the CPUSA’s attitude to African American liberation and Comintern’s orders in: R. Wilson, The Development of the Communist Position on the Negro Question in the United States, „The Phylon Quarterly” 1958, No. 19, issue 3, pp. 306–326, H. Klehr, W. Tompson, Self-determination in the Black Belt: Origins of a Communist Policy, „Labor History” 1989, No. 30, issue 3, pp. 354–366, O. Berland, The Emergence of the Communist Perspective on the „Negro Question” in America: 1919–1931: Part One, „Science and Society” 1999/2000, No. 63, issue 4, pp. 411–432, Ibidem, The Emergence of the Communist Perspective on the „Negro Question” in America: 1919–1931: Part Two, „Science and Society” 2000, No. 64, issue 2, pp. 194–217, J. A. Zumoff, The Communist International and US Communism, 1919-1929, London 2015, pp. 287–365.

[53] Resolution on the Negro Question in the United States…, p. 166.

[54] Ibidem, p. 165–166.

[55] Resolution on the Negro Question in the United States…, pp. 159–160.

[56] J. Pepper, The American Negro Problem, „The Communist” 1928, No. 7, issue 10, p. 634, W. Z. Foster, Toward Soviet America, New York 1932, p. 303.

[57] Resolution on the Negro Question in the United States…, p. 161.

[58] Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives. The American Negro in the Communist Party, Washington 1954, p. 2.

[59] Statement of Nowell, William Odell, Former Member of the Communist Party of the United States, In: United States. Congress. House. Special Committee on Un-American Activities. Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, Volume 11 (October 28 – December 3, 1939), Washington 1940, pp. 6996–6997.

[60] Ibidem, p. 6998.

[61] E. Browder, Communism in the United States, New York 1935, p. 292.

[62] Д. Даллин, Советский шпионаж в Европе и США 1920–1950 годы, Москва 2017, p. 284, A. Weinstein, A. Vasiliev, The Haunted Wood Soviet Espionage in America. The Stalin Era, New York 1999, pp. 22–50, 84–110, H. Klehr, J. E. Haynes, F. I. Firsov, The Secret World of American Communism, New Heaven London 1995, pp. 20–42, 71–119.

[63] S. McMeekin, The Red Millionaire. A Political Biography of Willi Münzenberg, Moscow’s Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, London 2003, p. 1.

[64] Заседание пятое – 20 июля 1928 года. Прения по докладу т. Бухарина. Речь т. Мюицонберга, In: VI Конгресс Коминтерна. Стенографический отчет. Выпуск 1. Международное положение и задачи Коминтерна, Москва – Ленинград 1929, pp. 101–106, C.A. Hathaway, On the Use of „Transmissions Belts” in Our Struggle for the Masses, „The Communist” 1931, No. 10, pp. 409–424, J. E. Hoover, The Masters of Deceit. The Story of Communism in America and How to Fight It, New York 1958, pp. 227–243.

[65] Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Department of Justice, The Communist Party and the Negro, Washington 1953, pp. 51–57. Cf. Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Department of Justice, The Communist Party and the Negro 1953–1956, Washington 1956, pp. 30–37.

[66] United States. Congress. House. Special Committee on Un-American Activities. Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States. Appendix Part IX (Communist Front Organizations). Fourth Section, Washington 1944, p. 1282.

[67] Г.М. Адибеков, Э.Н. Шахназарова, К.К.Шириня, Организационная структура Коминтерна…, p. 127, M. Szumiło, Wspomnienia Romana Zambrowskiego z Międzynarodowej Szkoły Leninowskiej w Moskwie (1929–1931), „Komunizm. System – ludzie – dokumentacja” 2012, No. 1, pp. 167–168, A.A. Соколов, Коминтерн и Вьетнам. Подготовка вьетнамских политических кадров в коммунистических вузах СССР, 20-30-е годы, Москва 1998, p. 19 et seq.

[68] Statement of Nowell, William Odell…, pp. 7021-7022. Any facilities of strategic, economic, and technical importance inside the city as mentioned by Nowell are now called critical infrastructure.

[69] See more: C. McClellan, Africans and Black Americans in the Comintern Schools, 1925–1934, „The International Journal of African Historical Studies” 1993, No. 26, issue 2, pp. 371–390.

[70] Quoted in: M. Szumiło, Wspomnienia Romana Zambrowskiego, p. 194.

[71] United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities. The Shameful Years. Thirty Years of Soviet Espionage in the United States, Washington 1951, pp. 5–7, A.C. Sutton, Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development 1917 to 1930, Stanford 1968, pp. 246, 261, 269, 287, Ф.Д. Бобков, КГБ и власть, Москва 1995, p. 107–124, Д. Даллин, Советский шпионаж в Европе, pp. 288–292.

[72] B. Абрамов, Евреи в КГБ, Москва 2006, pp. 320, 339–340.

[73] B. Абрамов, Евреи в КГБ…, pp. 320–321. Read more on Harris’s espionage: И.А. Дамаскин, Семнадцать имен Китти Харрис, Москва 1999.

[74] United States. Congress. House. Special Committee on Un-American Activities. Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States. Appendix Part IX (Communist Front Organizations)…, pp. 1282–1284.

[75] H. Haywood, Black Bolshevik. Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist, Chicago 1978, pp. 148–176, 198–218, 467–490.

[76] H. Haywood, Negro Liberation, New York 1948.

[77] H. Haywood, Black Bolshevik…, pp.565–566.

[78] United States. Congress. House. Special Committee on Un-American Activities. Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States. Appendix Part IX (Communist Front Organizations)…, pp. 1283–1284, J. W. Ford, The Negro and the Democratic Front, New York 1938, pp. 81–83.

[79] H.D. Lasswell, D. Blumenstock, World Revolutionary Propaganda. A Chicago Study, New York–London 1939, pp. 52, 78, 201–203.

[80] Testimony of Joseph Zack Kornfeder, In: Subversion in Racial Unrest. An Outline of a Strategic Weapon to Destroy the Governments of Louisiana and the United States. Public Hearings of the State of Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, March 6-9, 1957, Part 1, Baton Rouge 1957, p. 75.

[81] L. Sorensen, The Scottsboro Boys Trial: A Primary Source Account, New York 2004, pp. 7–26, J. R. Acker, Scottsboro, and Its Legacy: The Cases That Challenged American Legal and Social Justice, Westport–London 2008, pp. 1–17.

[82] Из протокола нр 94 заседания Политбюро ЦК ВКП(б). Об Информационном бюро. Предложение МОПР о кампании протеста против смертного приговора рабочим-неграмиз Скотсборо. 1 апреля 1932 г., In: Политбюро ЦК РКЩб)-ВКП(б) и Коминтерн: 1919–1943 гг. Документы, (ed.) Г.М. Адибеков, Москва 2004, p. 654.

[83] В.И. Соколова, В.И. Каллин, О.Н. Галошева, Роль Секретариата ЦК ВКП (б) в активизации движения МОПР напримере деятельности Интердомаимени Е.Д. Стасовой в 1930-х годах, „Вестник Чувашского университета” 2019, No. 2, p. 175, А.И. Аврус, Пролетарский интернационализм в действии (Изистории Международной организации помощи борцам революции), Москва 1971, pp. 43–53, 74–81.

[84] В.И. Пятницкий, Осип Пятницкий и Коминтернна весах истории, Минск 2004, p. 188.

[85] M. L. Roman, Opposing Jim Crow: African American sand the Soviet Indictment of U.S. Racism, 1928–1937, Lincoln–London 2012, pp. 92, 95.

[86] Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Department of Justice, The Communist Party and the Negro…, pp. 58–62, H. T. Murray, Changing America and the Changing Image of Scottsboro, „The Phylon Quarterly” 1977, No. 38, issue 1, pp. 82–92.

[87] J. A. Miller, S. D. Pennybacker, E. Rosenhaft, Mother Ada Wright and the International Campaign to Free the Scottsboro Boys, 1931-1934, „The American Historical Review” 2001, No. 106, issue 2, p. 401.

[88] J. Atkinson, The Politics of Struggle. The Communist Front and Political Warfare, Chicago 1966, p. 35.

[89] К.М. Андерсон, Л.В. Максименков, Л.П. Кошелева, Л.А. Роговая, Г.Л. Бондарев, Кремлевский кинотеатр. 1928–1953: Документы, Москва 2005, pp. 25–30.

[90] Г.В. Лапина, «Черные и белые»: история неудавшегося кинопроекта, “Антропологический Форум” 2016, No. 30, pp. 83–84.

[91] Из протокола № 198 заседания Оргбюро ЦК ВКП (б) 16 мая 1930 г., In: Кино: организация управления и власть. 1917–1938 гг.: Документы, (ed.) А.Л. Евстигнева, Москва 2016, pp. 402–403.

[92] Справка, выданная редактору «Киносправочника» Г. М. Болтянскому в связи с утверждением изменений в уставе Кинематографического акционерного общества «Межрабпом-Русь» и переименованием его в «Межрабпомфильм», In: Кино: организация управления и власть. 1917–1938 гг.: Документы, (ed.) А.Л. Евстигнева, Москва 2016, pp. 363–364.

[93] Г.В. Лапина, «Черные и белые»: история неудавшегося кинопроекта…, pp. 83–84, 102–105.

[94] Сталин и Каганович. Переписка 1931–1936 гг., (ed.) О.В. Хлевнюк, Р.У. Дэвис, Л.П. Кошелева, Э.А. Рис, Л.А. Роговая, Москва 2001, p. 252.

[95] F. Berry, Langston Hughes Before and Beyond Harlem, Westport 1983, pp. 168–169.

[96] Г.В. Лапина, «Черные и белые»: история неудавшегося кинопроекта…, p. 83.


Michał Wojnowski, PhD – independent scholar. He authored several studies published in Przegląd Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego and reprinted in special services magazines in Romania (SRI) and Ukraine (SBU). He rendered a number of expert opinions for such institutions as the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, the Special Services Coordinator, the Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, the Sejm Bureau of Research, and the National Security Bureau. His research interest include hybrid, sabotage, and propaganda activities of the Soviet and Russian security agencies.

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