Continued from Part One.
Bezmenov: All right. As every student in [the] USSR, I went through very extensive physical and military training, and civil defense training too. Unlike in [the] United States, where civil defense in virtually nonexistent—zero—in [the] USSR, every student, whatever his major subject, has to go through very extensive four-year military and civil defense training. You can see me here with a group of students during one of the ‘war games’ near Moscow. [Previous page, bottom left.] The main idea, of course, is to prepare [a] huge reserve army of the USSR. Each student has to graduate as a Junior Lieutenant. In my case it was Administrative and Military Intelligence Service.
My first assignment was to India as a translator with the Soviet [Economic] Aid Group, building refinery complexes in Bihar State and Gujarat State. At that time I was still naively, idealistically believing that what I was doing contribute[d] to the understanding and cooperation between the nations. It took me quite a number of years to realize that what we were bringing of India was a new type of colonialism, [a] thousand times more oppressive and exploitative than any colonialism and imperialism in [the] history of mankind. But at that time I was still hoping that well, maybe it’s not that bad, [it] could be worse, and things may go for [the] better. And I even tried to implement the beautiful Marxist motto, ‘Proletarians of all the countries unite!’
I tried to unite with a nice Indian girl. And actually I was fascinated by the Indian culture, by family life in this country. But obviously [the] Communist Party had different plans for my genes, so I had to marry this beautiful Russian girl:
In the span of my career, I married three times. Most of these marriages were marriages of convenience on advice from the Department of Personnel. This was [a] normal practice in [the] USSR. When a Soviet citizen is assigned to a foreign job, he has to be married, either to keep [his] family in [the] USSR as hostages, or, if it’s a convenience marriage like mine, so that the husband and wife are virtually informers on each other, to prevent defection or contamination by ‘decadent imperialist or capitalist ideas.’ In my case, I hated that girl so much that the moment I landed in Moscow we were divorced and I married later a second time.
By the end of my first assignment in India, I was promoted to the position of Public Relation Officer. You can see me here, translating a speech by a Soviet boss…
Griffin: And you’re on the right?
Bezmenov: I am on the right here, yes. The occasion was [the] commission of the refinery complex in Bihar [in] Barauni.
Back in Moscow, I was immediately recruited by Novosti Press Agency, which is a propaganda and ideological subversion front for the KGB. 75% of the members of the Novosti are commissioned officers of the KGB. The other 25 are, like [me], co-opted agents who are assigned to specific operations. In this particular case you can see me talking to students of Lumumba Friendship University in Moscow.
This is a huge school under the direct control of the KGB and [the] Central Committee, where future leaders of the so-called ‘National Liberation Movements’ are being educated and selected carefully, and some of them have absolutely...
This, for example, is a group of students from Lumumba. They don’t look like students at all; they look more like military, and that’s exactly what they were. They were dispatched back to their countries to be leaders of the so-called ‘National Liberation Movements,’ or, to be translated into normal human language, leaders of international terrorist groups.
Another area of activity when I was working for the Novosti [Press Agency] was to accompany groups of so-called ‘progressive intellectuals’: writers, journalists, publishers, teachers, [and] professors of colleges.
You can see here in [the] Kremlin, I am [the] second on the left, with a group of Pakistani and Indian intellectuals. Most of them pretended [that] they don’t understand that we are actually working on behalf of the Soviet government and the KGB. They pretended that they are actually being guests—VIP intellectuals—that they are treated according to their merits and their intellectual abilities. For us they were just a bunch of political prostitutes to be taken advantage [of] for various propaganda operations.
Therefore you can see perfectly well the senior colleague of mine on the left doesn’t really have that much respect on his face, and [me] with a very skeptical smile, [a] typical KGB sarcastic smile, anticipating another victim of ideological brainwashing.
This is how a typical conference in [the] Novosti headquarters in Moscow [looks]. Sitting in the middle is Boris Burkov, the then director of Novosti Press Agency, [a] high-ranking Party bureaucrat in the Department of Propaganda. I am standing next to a famous Indian poet, Sumitranandan Pant. He was famous because he was the author of a famous poem, [entitled], ‘Rhapsody to Lenin.’ That’s why he was invited to [the] USSR, and everything was paid [for] by the Soviet government.
Pay special attention to [the] number of bottles on the table. This is one of the ways to kill the awareness, or curiosity of foreign journalists. One of my functions was to keep foreign guests permanently intoxicated. The moment they landed at Moscow Airport, I had to take them to the VIP Lounge and toast to friendship and understanding between the nations of the world. [A] glass of vodka, then a second glass of vodka, and in no time my guests would be feeling very happy, they would see everything in [a] kind of pink, nice color, and that’s the way I had to keep them permanently for the next fifteen or twenty days.
At [a] certain point in time, I had to withdraw alcohol from them, so that some of them who are the most recruitable would feel a little bit shaky, guilty, trying to remember what they were talking [about] last night... That’s the time to approach them with all kind[s] of nonsense such as ‘Joint Communiqué’ or [a] statement for Soviet propaganda. That’s the time they are the most flexible. And of course what they didn’t understand—they didn’t realize or pretended not to realize that [I], who was drinking together with them, was not drinking at all; I had ways to get rid of alcohol through various techniques, including special pills which were given to me by colleagues. But they were taking it seriously; in other words, they would consume quite a large [volume] of alcohol and feel quite uneasy [the] next morning.
In 1967, the KGB attached me to this magazine, Look magazine. A group of twelve people arrived in [the] USSR from [the] United States to cover the 50th Anniversary of [the] October Socialist Revolution in my country.
From the first page to the last page, it was a package of lies: propaganda cliché[s] which were presented to American readers as opinions and deductions of American journalists.
Nothing could be [further] from [the] truth. These were not opinions; they were not opinions at all. They were the clichés which the Soviet propaganda [wanted the] American public to think that they think—if [that makes] any sense at all. It sure does, because from the viewpoint of the Soviet propaganda, although there are some subtle criticism[s] of the Soviet system, the basic message is that Russia today is a nice, functioning, efficient system, supported by [the] majority of [the] population.
That’s the biggest lie, and of course, American intellectuals and journalists from Look magazine elaborated on that untruth in various different ways. The intellectual lies that lie... they found all kind[s] of justifications for telling lies to [the] American public.
And this is...
Griffin: Excuse me. It was partly your job to make sure they got these ideas…
Griffin: ...and accepted them as their own ideas.
Bezmenov: Right. Actually, before they arrived to [the] USSR, and they paid [an] astronomical sum of money for that visit, they were submitted… the Novosti Press Agency developed so-called ‘backgrounders,’ 20, 25 pages of information and opinions which were presented to the journalists even before they bought their tickets to Moscow. They had to analyze the situation, and judging on their reaction to that backgrounder, the local Novosti representative or local Soviet diplomat in Washington, D.C. would assess whether they [should] be given [a] visa to [the] USSR or not.
Griffin: They were selected ahead of time?
Bezmenov: Oh yes. They were pre-selected very carefully, and there is not much [of a] chance for honest journalists to arrive to [the] USSR , to stay there for one year, and to bring this package of lies back home.
This, for example, is a centerfold of the Look magazine. They presented this monument, erected by [the] Communist Party in Stalingrad, as the symbol, [the] personification of Russian military might. And they said in the article, which is published on the side, that Soviets are very proud of the victory in the Second World War. This is another big myth, a lie. No sensible people would be proud to lose twenty [million] of their countrymen in a war which was started by [?] Hitler and Comrade Stalin, and paid [for] by American multinationals.
Most of the Soviet citizens look at [these types] of monuments with disgust and sorrow, because every family lost [a] father, brother, sister, or child in the Second World War. Yet, American journalists who were trying to appease—to please—their hosts presented this picture on the centerfold as the symbol and personification of Soviet national—they call it ‘Russian’—national spirit. And it was [the] greatest, greatest misconception and a very tragic misunderstanding. Of course, Look magazine was not distributed in [the] USSR. The main audience was in [the] United States, but I presume that many Americans—millions of Americans—who were reading Look magazine at that time had [an] absolutely wrong idea about the sentiments of my nation, about what the Soviets are proud of, and what they hate.
This is a group—you see the same lady with the sword, in Stalingrad—of journalists. [I am] in the center with the same devilish smile, and Mr. Philip Harrington is on the extreme left there, with his camera.
This is the gentleman [who] was so daft or so uninterested in what I had to say to him. [Close-up of Harrington] This is the same picture, a blow-up of the same picture.
Many guests from various countries—in this particular case from Asia and Africa—were taken by me, as a Novosti Press Agency employee, for a tour across Siberia, for example. We would show them [a] typical kindergarten, you see? Nothing special by American standards: just nice children sitting eating their breakfast, or lunch. What they could not understand, or they pretended not to understand, [is] that this is an exemplary kindergarten; this is not the kindergarten for [an] average person, or average family in [the] USSR. And we maintain that illusion in their minds. You can see [me] under the red spot in the needle there, with the same businesslike expression. I am doing my job; that’s what I am assigned to do and that’s what I was paid to do. But deep inside, I still hoped that at least some of these useful idiots would understand that what they are looking at has nothing to do with the level of affluence in my nation.
This is a better picture, which reflects the true ‘spirit’ of the Soviet childhood. This picture was printed in a Canadian government publication by mistake. In the middle, you can see children playing on a small courtyard. And the caption goes, ‘This is a typical kindergarten in Siberia.’ What these idiots didn’t understand [was] that it is not [a] kindergarten at all. It is a prison for children of political prisoners. But there was not a single [mention] that what they were visiting actually was an area of concentration camps. And [it was] the job of people like myself, to help them not to notice that they are actually talking to prisoners. Most of the children were dressed, especially on the occasion of the foreigners’ visit. Of course there were no corpses on the ground. There were no machine gun guards. And well it looks not very pleasant as you see; it looks dull, but obviously does not create an impression that this is actually a prison.
Griffin: Well, did any of the journalists have the curiosity to ask about prisons and that kind of thing? They were in Siberia; this is what you associate with it.
Bezmenov: Yes, yes. Some of them asked questions, and naturally we would give them... for the stupid question, we’d give them [a] stupid answer. ‘No, there are no prisons in Siberia. No, most of the people who you see are free citizens of [the] USSR; they are very happy to be here, and they are contributing to the glory of the socialist system.’ Some of them pretended that they believed what I was telling them and most of them—we may discuss it later: What are the motivations of these people? Why would they stubbornly bring lies to their own population through their own mass media? I have various answers to this; there is not a single explanation. It’s a complex of explanations.
It’s fear: pure biological fear. They understand that they are on the territory of an enemy state, a police state, and just to save their rotten skins and their miserable jobs, their affluence back home, they would prefer to tell a lie than to ask truthful questions and report truthful information.
Second, most of these schmucks were afraid to lose their jobs, because, obviously, if you tell [the] truth about my country, you will not last long as a correspondent of [The] New York Times or [The] Los Angeles Times. They will fire you. ‘What kind of correspondent are you? You obviously cannot find common language with Russians if they kick you out within 24 hours.’ So just by trying to be conformist to their own editorial bosses, they tried not to offend the sentiments of the Soviet administrators and people like myself. Deep inside, I hoped they would insult or offend my sentiment. Obviously they preferred not to.
Another reason—I refuse to believe it, but obviously there is another reason—obviously it’s agreed: these people earn a lot of money. When they come back to [the] USA, they claim that they are experts on my country. They write books which [sell] a million copies. Title[s] like ‘Russians: The Truth about Russia.’ Most of it is [a] lie about Russia. Yet they claim to be ‘Sovietologists.’ They play back [the] myth about my country, the propaganda clichés. Yet they stubbornly resist the word of truth if a person like Solzhenitsyn is either defecting or kicked out of [the] USSR. They try all their best to discredit him and to discourage him. I don’t have much chance to appear on [a] national network with the true story about my country, but a useful idiot like [Hedrick] Smith or Robert Kaiser... They are big heroes; they come back from [the] USSR; they say, ‘Oh we were talking to dissidents in Russia!’ Big deal! Soviet dissidents are chasing American correspondents in the streets. And they are cowardly escaping from these contacts.
For some strange reason, if you want to know more about Spain, you refer to Spanish writers; if you want to learn more about [the] French, you read French writers; even about Antarctica, I bet, you would read penguins. Only about the Soviet Union, for some strange reason, you read Hendricks and Schmendricks and all kind[s] of Kissingers. Because they claim they know more about my country. They know nothing, or next to nothing. Or they pretend that they know more than they actually do. I would say they are dishonest people who lack integrity and common sense and intellectual honesty. They bring back all kind[s] of stories like that—[indicates the slide of children on a playground]—‘a kindergarten in Siberia,’ omitting the most important fact: it’s a prison for children of political prisoners.
Another [great] example of [the] monumental idiocy of American politicians: Edward Kennedy was in Moscow, and he thought that he [was] a popular, charismatic American politician, who is easygoing, who can smile, dance at the wedding in [the] Russian Palace of Marriages. What he did not understand—or maybe he pretended not to understand—[was] that actually he was being taken for a ride. This is a staged wedding especially to impress foreign media or useful idiots like Ed Kennedy. Most of the guests there, they had security clearance and they were instructed [about] what to say to foreigners.
This is exactly what I was doing. You can see me in the same damn Wedding Palace in Moscow, where Ed Kennedy was dancing here, you see, smiling. He thinks he is very smart. From the viewpoint of [the] Russian citizens, who observed this idiocy, he is [a] narrow-minded, egocentrical idiot, who tries to earn his own popularity through participation in propaganda farces like this.
Here you can see [me]. On the right: again, exemplary Soviet bride. On the left: three journalists from various countries [in] Asia, Africa and Latin America. Obviously they [are] enjoying the situation. They will go back home and write the reports: ‘we were present [at a] regular Soviet wedding.’ They were not present [at a] regular Soviet wedding. They were present; they were part of a farce, of a circus performance.
Another thing which I had to… sometimes risking my life to explain to foreigners: Time magazine, for example, is very critical of [the] South African racist regime. The whole article was dedicated to the shameful internal passport system, where blacks are not [being allowed] to leave [as whites are]. For some strange reason, for the last fourteen years since my defection, nobody wanted to pay attention to my passport.
This is my passport. It also shows my nationality, and it has a police rubber stamp which is called prapiska in [the] Russian language, which assigns me to a certain area of residence. I cannot leave that area. [It is the] same way as this black man cannot leave [his] area in South Africa. Yet we call [the] South African government [a] ‘racist regime.’ Not a single Jane Schmonda or Fonda is brave enough, courageous enough, to come to [the] media and say, ‘Look, this is what happens in [the] USSR.’ I sent a copy of my passport to many American liberals and civil rights defenders and all the other useful idiots. They never bothered to answer me back. This shows what kind of integrity, what kind of honesty these people [have]. They are [a] bunch of hypocrites, because they don’t want to recognize a good example of racism in my country.
This is the first stage of befriending a professor. You can see [me] on the left, with the same James Bond smile. On the right is my KGB supervisor, Comrade Leonid Mitrokhin*. And in the middle: a Professor of Political Science in Delhi University.
The next stage would be to invite him to a gathering of [the] Indo-Soviet Friendship Society.
There he is sitting next to his wife, before he is [going to be] sent to [the] USSR for [a] free trip. Everything is paid [for] by the Soviet government. He was made to believe that he is invited to [the] USSR because he is a talented, sober-thinking intellectual. Absolutely false: He is invited because he is a useful idiot, because he will agree and subscribe to most of the Soviet propaganda cliché[s], and when he [comes] back to his own country, he is going for years and years to teach the beauties of Soviet socialism, to newer and newer generations of his students, thus promoting the Soviet propaganda line.
The KGB was even curious about this gentleman (It may look innocent): Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a great spiritual leader, or maybe a great charlatan and crook, depending on from which side you are looking at him. [The] Beatles were trained at his ashram in Haridwar in India [in] how to meditate; Mia Farrow and other useful idiots from Hollywood visited his school and they returned back to [the] United States absolutely zonked out of their minds with marijuana, hashish, and crazy ideas of meditation.
To meditate, in other words, to isolate oneself from the current social and political issues of your own country, to get into your own bubble, to forget about [the] troubles of the world—obviously [the] KGB was very fascinated with such a beautiful school, such a brainwashing center for stupid Americans. I was dispatched by the KGB to check [into] what kind of VIP Americans attend this school.
Griffin: That’s you on the left there?
Bezmenov: Yes, I’m on the left. I was trying to get enrolled in that school. Unfortunately Maharishi Mahesh Yogi asked too much; he wanted 500 American dollars for enrollment. But my function was not actually to get enrolled in this school. My function was to discover what kind of people from [the] United States attend this school. And we discovered that yes, there are some [members of influential families], public opinion-makers of [the] United States, who come back with the crazy stories about Indian philosophy.
Indians themselves look upon them as idiots, useful idiots, to say nothing about [the] KGB who looked upon them as extremely naïve, misguided people. Obviously, a VIP, say a wife of a Congressman, or a prominent Hollywood personality, after being trained in that school, is much more instrumental in the hands of manipulators of public opinion, and [the] KGB, than a normal person, who understands, who looks through this type of fake religious training.
Griffin: Why would they be more susceptible to manipulation?
Bezmenov: I just mentioned it. Because, you see, a person who is too much involved in introspective meditation, you see, if you carefully look [at] what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is teaching to Americans, [it] is that most of the problems, most of the burning issues of today, can be solved simply by meditating. Don’t rock the boat, don’t get involved. Just sit down, look at your navel, and meditate. And the things, due to some strange logic, due to cosmic vibration, will settle down by themselves.
This is exactly what the KGB and Marxist-Leninist propaganda want from Americans. To distract their opinion, attention, and mental energy from [the] real issues of [the] United States, into [non-issues], into a non-world, non-existent harmony. Obviously it’s more beneficial for the Soviet aggressors to have a bunch of duped Americans than Americans who are self-conscious, healthy, physically fit, and alert to the reality.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi obviously is not on the payroll of the KGB, but whether he knows it or not, he contributes greatly to [the] demoralization of American society. And he is not the only one. There are hundreds of those gurus who come to your country to capitalize on [the] naïveté and stupidity of Americans. It’s a fashion. It’s a fashion to meditate; it’s a fashion not to be involved.
So obviously you can see that if [the] KGB were that curious, if they paid [for] my trip to Haridwar, if they assigned me to that strange job, obviously they were very much fascinated. They were convinced that that type of brainwashing is very efficient and instrumental in [the] demoralization of [the] United States.
Continued in Part Three.