8. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the United States Information Agency and the Department of State1

2122. Subject: TASS Continues Attack on VOA and USIA. Ref: (A) Moscow 2004,2 (B) Moscow 2042,3 (C) Moscow 2043,4 Exdis.

1. Hard on the heels of Goncharov’s attack on VOA carried by TASS February 10 and reported reftel A, there appeared February 11 another (unsigned) commentary on the TASS wire datelined Washington and again singling out VOA, and this time USIA as well, for particular vilification.

2. Entitled “Confrontation in the USA”, the February 11 item ostensibly concerns itself with “a sharp confrontation” in the United States between “the forces of reaction and militarism” on one side and “broad public forces which realize how senseless and dangerous is the arms race” on the side of the angels. As such, this would be just another piece of TASS boilerplate on the “myth of the Soviet threat” were it not for its particular focus on USIA and VOA.

3. In setting the stage for its eventual presentation of the view of participants in a Washington seminar sponsored by a so-called “Coalition for a New Foreign Policy,”5 the TASS piece claims that enemies of detente in the West have been and still are carrying on “a fierce political and ideological struggle against the basic propositions and [Page 24] the fundamentals of the (Helsinki) Final Act.”6 Not only for export, this campaign is allegedly also directed against Americans themselves, “poisoning their minds from year to year with anti-Soviet propaganda.”

4. To carry this “rabid anti-Soviet and anti-Communist campaign abroad,” these enemies of detente make use of “state bodies, such as the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), acting as a coordinating center of anti-Soviet propaganda, and the Agency-directed ‛Voice of America’,” as well as the expected Pentagon and CIA “misinformation services” and professional anti-Sovietists.”

5. With that off its chest, TASS devotes much of the remainder of the story to the Coalition for a New Foreign Policy” conference, citing “Professor J. Stone, the Director of the American Scientists Federation” (sic), Dr. A.M. Cox of the Brookings Institution, and Professor E. Revenal of Johns Hopkins University. All, of course, are quoted in pithy statements about the non-existence of any Soviet threat and needless American defense expenditures. Finally, the piece refers to a “peoples action group” petition against funding the B–1 bomber.

6. Comment: Coupled with the February 10 TASS commentary, this latest criticism of USIA-cum-VOA provides supporting fire for the main attack launched in the February 12 issue of Pravda (reported refs B and C). Although human rights are not mentioned in the February 11 TASS piece, the familiar charges of anti-Sovietism and “anti-Helsinki-ism” are. VOA, which on February 10 was “hostile” and “interfer(ing) in the internal affairs” of the USSR, by February 11 had become an arm of the “coordinating center of anti-Soviet propaganda.” That “center”, USIA, was singled out for the first direct attack in the past several years—VOA occasionally coming in for criticism but not as a component of USIA. The Agency, after recent favorable mention in Soviet press treatment of exhibits and other cultural exchanges, has at least temporarily slipped back into the TASS “bad guy” column. As with the February 10 TASS article, singling out of VOA and USIA this time around can only be seen as an expression of particular Soviet displeasure over Voice and USIA (and overall USG) treatment of current issues in the U.S.-Soviet bilateral context.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770052–0417. Limited Official Use; Priority. Sent for information to Leningrad.
  2. In telegram 2004 from Moscow, February 11, the Embassy reported on Vladimir Goncharov’s analysis, noting that it contained the “strongest and most pointed criticism of Voice of America broadcasts in recent memory.” The Embassy concluded, “TASS and by direct implication those who set TASS policy clearly upset over very thorough Western treatment of human rights situation in USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, et. al. By jumping on VOA, however, rather than usual bêtes noire RL and RFE (no other station is mentioned by name in piece) Soviets seem to be saying they particularly irked by emphasis given this subject on VOA Russian service.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770049–1149)
  3. In telegram 2042 from Moscow, February 12, the Embassy summarized an article appearing in the February 12 issue of Pravda, entitled “What is Concealed Behind the Clamor About ‛Human Rights’.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770051–0436)
  4. In telegram 2043 from Moscow, February 13, the Embassy provided an assessment of human rights in the Soviet Union. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770051–0508)
  5. Reference is presumably to the Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy, a lobbying organization for peace and social justice issues.
  6. Reference is to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Final Act, or Helsinki Accords, comprised of four “baskets” or categories. For the text of the Final Act, signed on August 1, 1975, see Department of State Bulletin, September 1, 1975, pp. 323–350.