The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

No. 96

Current Soviet propaganda on the forthcoming elections to the Supreme Soviet thus far conforms to previously-established patterns as regards both the mechanics of the elections and the related propaganda themes. The elections are being played up as an expression of the solidarity of the people behind the Government and the Party and considerable stress is laid as always on socialist competitions—increased labor effort—in honor of the event. To quote from Pravda’s lead editorial of January 21:

“The electoral campaign now taking place for the elections to the Supreme Soviet USSR is characterized by a new upsurge of political and labor activity. The elections are a new bright demonstration of the Party’s close ties with the people, of the moral-political unity of the Soviet people, of its solidarity behind the Party of Bolsheviks, around the great Stalin”.1

The Soviet Government regularly utilizes anniversaries and special events as an excuse to demand increased efforts from its workers and according to one Soviet contact who is himself a factory worker considerable overtime work is being demanded today. The elections provide the third recent opportunity to make such demands, the others being the anniversary of the October Revolution2 and Stalin’s birthday.3 It seems likely that the prolonged speed-up campaign is related to the drive for preterm fulfillment of the five-year-plan.

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On the political side, agitation points (agitpunkty) have been established and copies of the electoral laws and other literature of a political nature are being widely distributed. Since foreign as well as domestic themes are discussed at the agitation points and in the press, it is not surprising to find the theme of economic “crisis” in the capitalist world coming in for a large share of attention.

Although the results of the elections are a foregone conclusion and the press is already heralding the anticipated triumph of the bloc of Party and non-Party candidates, the usual enormous amount of time and energy is being thrown into the preelection campaign. For example, the “aktiv” of the Maly Theater in Moscow has undertaken to conduct broad agitation-propaganda work among the voters of its electoral precinct, to deliver “regularly” lectures and speeches at the agitation point, devoting particular attention to young voters. The theater collective body (Kollektiv) will give 10 concerts and has appealed to all theaters and cultural workers of the capital to take an active part in the election campaign.

While an effort is usually made to see that each and every citizen is contacted by an “activist” or agitator who is prepared to answer any questions about the elections and their significance, there is evidently no compulsion involved in this connection: according to one Soviet source, the unorganized segments of the population—housewives, etc.—are informed where they can attend lectures or, if this proves inconvenient, are asked to name a time when an agitator can call on them. The majority may find it politically expedient to make some sort of effort to show their interest in the elections but apparently can be “too busy” to attend lectures or receive agitators. Few will fail to vote, however.

For the Ambassador:
Walworth Barbour

  1. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Generalissimo, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, pp. 669 and 672.
  3. In regard to the celebration of Stalin’s 70th birthday, see ibid., pp. 683, 686, and 687.