In an interview with G. Edward Griffin in 1984, former KGB informant Yuri Bezmenov had exposed the insidious operations of the Soviet Union and how the Communist apparatus viciously overtakes the conscience of a country.
He began his interview by revealing that people who towed the Soviet foreign policy, in their home country, were elevated to positions of power through media and manipulation of public opinion. However, those who refused to do so were either subjected to character assassination or killed. Bezmenov cited the example of the city of Hue in Vietnam where 1000s of people were executed in one night for being sympathetic to the United States. The city was under the seize of a mass political organization named Viet Cong for about 2 days when the mass killings took place. Even though the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could never understand how the operation was carried out, Bezmenov pointed out the extensive network of local informants set up by the Soviet Union to execute those who didn’t tow its line.
Recounting his time in India, the KGB informant revealed how he was shocked to discover the list of known pro-soviet journalists in India who were doomed to die. He said that even though those journalists were idealistically leftists, yet the KGB wanted them dead as ‘they knew too much’. Benzmenov emphasised, “Once the useful idiots (leftists), who idealistically believe in the beauty of Soviet socialism or Communism, get disillusioned, they become the worst enemies.”
The former KGB informant reiterated there are no grassroots revolutions but one engineered by a professional, organised group. He revealed that the Awami League party leaders were trained in Moscow, Crimea, and Tashkent. He also added that the Indian Government chose to unsee the movement of 1000s of ‘students’ from India to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). His colleague at the Soviet Consulate in Kolkata had discovered guns and ammunition in his basement in a box titled ‘Printed material’ scheduled for Dhaka University. It indicated the role of the Soviet Union in arming the Mukti Bahini during the war.
The ideal recruits of KGB
He was instructed by the KGB to not bother the ‘political prostitutes’ but instead surround himself with large conservative media persons, rich filmmakers, academicians, and cynical egocentric people. According to Benzmenov, the potential recruits and reputable people in the eyes of the KGB were narcissistic, greedy, morally devoid individuals who can help destabilise their country of origin. Citing the example of the United States, he stated that the KGB recruited professors and civil rights defenders to subvert and destabilise the country. “When their job is completed, they are not needed anymore. They know too much. Some (recruits) get offended when Marxists-Leninists come to power because they hoped they would come to power. That will never happen. They will be lined up against the wall and shot,” he remarked.
The Plan to execute Indian journalists
The KGB informant reiterated that when the ‘useful idiots’ serve their purpose, they are either executed or exiled or held up in prisons. “We are a bunch of murders. There is nothing to do with friendship and understanding between the nations… We behave like a bunch of thugs in a country that is hospitable to us. I did not defect but I tried to get my message across. Nobody wanted even to listen, least of all to believe me,” he sighed recounting the inner turmoil he faced on learning about the scheduled execution of pro-Soviet Indian journalists known to him.
The Defection of Yuri Bezmenov
His decision to defect and switch sides came during the Bangladesh Liberation War which was described by an American correspondent as the ‘Islamic grassroots revolution.’ Under the patronage of the KGB, Yuri Bezmenov lived a lavish lifestyle. He was, however, in love with India so much so that he did not want the country to be ‘irreparably damaged’ under the Soviet influence. Despite an affluent career and labels of treason against the nation, he finally defected from the KGB.
And he disappeared as many had done in the past. The only possible difference was that he lived to tell the story. Interestingly, Indian newspapers carried ads citing a reward of ₹2000 for information on him. But, the informant had by then impersonated an American hippie and flew from Mumbai airport to Greece where he met with CIA officials. All of this happened under the nose of the KGB.
The concept of ‘Ideological Subversion’
Yuri Bezmenov explained that KGB was more concerned about the psychological warfare against the American government through ideological subversion rather than espionage activities, which constituted only 15% of their work. He highlighted how brainwashing techniques were used on the American population to infuse an ideology, distinct from Americanism. He further emphasised how manipulation of public opinion can make people reject obvious facts to cater to the existing perceptions and interests.
Demoralisation of a population
The former KGB informant stated that the Soviet Intelligence Agency used four methods to alter the mindset and behaviour of people in foreign countries. The first step is that of demoralisation which according to him took 15-20 years. During the phase, young people are influenced to question the integrity of a country and raise suspicions through media propaganda and academia. Perception takes the centre stage and facts become meaningless. He attributes it to the lack of moral standards in society.
For a population self-absorbed in a world of propaganda, and theories of Marxism and Leninism, truth loses its grip on the society. The older generation also loses control over the population due to consistent attacks on their moral fabric. Yuri Bezmenov revealed that the ‘demoralisation’ phase was completed before the interview and the Soviet Union was surprised at the ease of its execution. He also explained how those from the 60s were occupying high positions in the government, mass media, and civil services at the time of the interview. Yuri Bezmenov further claimed that another 20 years would take to create a new generation of patriotic American citizens.
Destabilisation, Crisis and Normalisation
As per the former KGB informant, destabilisation of a country also referred to as the second step, meant altering the nation’s foreign relations, economy, defence systems. He said that the process takes 2-5 years to execute. He stated that the Marxist-Leninist hold over the American defence and economic sector was ‘fantastic.’ Bezmenov said that he never thought that the process would be so easy to execute in the US when he landed there in 1971. He highlighted that a country could be brought to a state of crisis, the third step, in a short time as six weeks and cited the example of Central America to make his point.
Coupled with a violent change in power structure and economy, the fourth phase of normalisation is kicked in that can last indefinitely. The word normalisation is derived from Soviet propaganda that seeks to downplay a drastic change in a country as a normal phenomenon. “This will happen in America if you allow the Schumuks to bring the country to crisis, promise people all kinds of goodies and paradise on Earth, destabilise your economy, eliminate the principle of free-market competition, put a Big Brother government in Washington DC with benevolent things,” he remarked.
Yuri Bezmenov reiterated that the US was in a state of undeclared war, against the principles on which it was founded, under the Communist conspiracy. “You don’t have to be paranoid… Unless the United States wakes up! The time bomb is ticking every second and the disaster is coming closer and closer. Unlike myself, you will have nowhere to defect,” he emphasised.