Title:                      Dezinformatsia

Author:                 Richard H. Shultz

Shultz, Richard H. (1984). and Roy Godson. Dezinformatsia: Active Measure in Soviet Strategy. McLean, VA: Pergamon-Brassey’s

LCCN:    84000438

UB251.S65 S54 1984


Date Updated:  September 25, 2015

Active Measures is a synonym for covert activities. Many euphemisms exist for covert activities including special activities. The term “disinformation” is derived from the Russian word dezinformatsia, which refers to the active-measures technique of misleading an audience to induce it to act in one’s own interest.

John C. Campbell reviewed this book in Foreign Affairs (Fall, 1984).

The Shultz/Godson book is a useful survey of how the Soviet Union used “disinformation,” propaganda, agents, covert political techniques and front organizations to influence events in foreign countries and to further its strategic aims such as discrediting America and weakening NATO. Parts of the presentation are novel, but the revelations are not particularly sensational.

Nigel West briefly explained active measures[1] as a Soviet term denoting operations conducted to accomplish specific political goals, the principal one being the misrepresentation of Eastern policy on particular issues and generally discrediting the status of the “Main Adversary” in the Third World. The scale of the campaign, and the KGB’s involvement in the development and execution of specific items of disinformation, was disclosed by a KGB officer, Anatoli Golitsyn, following his defection in Helsinki in December 1961.

For originality and sensationalism, turn to Anatoli Golitsyn, Dezinformatsia: Active Measures in Soviet Strategy; New Lies for Old: The Communist Strategy of Deception and Disinformation, the exposé and arguments of Anatoli Golitsyn, a former KGB officer who defected in 1961. His thesis is that the Communists, by a massive disinformation campaign begun in 1958-60, hoodwinked the West’s analysts and policymakers time and again. As carefully arranged examples of agreed Communist strategy, he cites the Soviet disputes with Yugoslavia since 1958, the rift with Albania, the Soviet-Chinese split, Romania’s independent line, the Prague Spring, Eurocommunism, and the appearance of Solidarity in Poland. The author’s KGB experience and background doubtless give him a special vantage point, but most of this story can be taken with several grains of salt.


[1] West, Nigel (2006). Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, p. 3

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  1. Pingback: Dezinformatsia | Moskaus 5. Kolonne in D

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