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Communist Front Organizations

Before there was Facebook and fake news there were front organizations. During the 20th Century the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [CPSU], hand in glove with Soviet security organs such as the KGB, used a "mighty Wurlitzer" of ostensibly free-standing organizations to propound the party line of the moment. During the Cold War, it was evident that these groups were funded with Moscow gold. Somewhat curiously, this entire marching band proceeded right past the end of the Cold War, and three decades after the Berlin Wall fell, are pretty much alive and well, still spouting Moscow's messages.

The Communists made a practice of attempting to attract idealistic but naive local personages to serve on local committees, even to serve as local chairman, to provide a facade of respectability. The various Communist fronts, it can be noted, invariably criticized human rights violations in non-Communist countries, but were blind to such violations in Soviet bloc countries.

A basic change in the orientation of Cold War front organizations came with the Soviet abandonment of the war-time policy of the United Front with any anti-fascist groups, the basis of Communist policy in the 1930s, and most of the Great Patriotic War. Instead, around September 1947, Communist groups throughout the world adopted'a different strategy which emphasized that Communist parties and related organizations should take power themselves. Under the new "two camp" policy, cooperation with non-Communist groups was curtailed or abandoned, and Communist- controlled international organizations took much more "militant" line.

In addition to their activities in and for the international fronts, the affiliated Soviet "mass organizations" became increasingly involved in bilateral foreign activity. Invitations, exchanges, and sponsored events - directed particularly at similar organizations or groups in underdeveloped countries - emphasized the Soviet effort to influence foreign organizations by country to country contacts which were outside the activities of the international fronts.

Other Soviet organizations were engaged in similar efforts. The magnitude of this effort was well illustrated by the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (headed by a party Central Committee member). Under this roof organization, some 44 individual friendship societies or associations were engaged in efforts to create sympathy for and interest in the Soviet Union abroad, including the formation in foreign countries of a network of local friendship societies with the USSR.

Foreign contacts on the national level were also pursued by such domestic Soviet organizations as the Union of Sport Societies and Organizations of the USSR, USSR Union of Writers, and various religious organizations (particularly those of Islam). The Academy of Sciences of the USSR was also very active internationally, especially through its institutes for the study of foreign areas.

All of these organizations were controlled, manipulated and coordinated by theCommunist Party of the Soviet Union. These Soviet covert action operations abroad were augmented by similar operations conducted, to the best of their ability, by the other Communist regimes. Communists in the Free World further assisted the Soviet effort by the role they played in the international front organizations by their efforts to mobilize public opinion withi their own countries.

The international Communist fronts sometimes flooded a country with propaganda -- mailed booklets and pamphlets, publications issued by various fronts, wall posters, etc. Much of this material would be barred if distribution were attempted by a Soviet bloc diplomatic mission.

Organizations whose specific purposes were to link student groups in different countries existed as early as the 1850s. The Cold War student internationals were unable to make themselves relevant to the needs of activist student movements or even to the national student unions which they primarily served. The student internationals were linked directly to the politics of the Cold War through their financial subsidies and control by the United States or the Soviet Union. Their own operations were tied directly to their source of financing, and much of their energiea were spent in struggling with opposing international student organizations.

The two major organizations which were linked primarily to the Cold War were the International Union of Students (IUS), founded in 1947 and headquartered in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and the International Student Conference (ISC), founded in 1950 and headquartered in Leiden, Netherlands. The former group was financed by the Soviet Union while the latter, until its demise in 1968, was financed by the United States. The links of the ISC to the US Central Intelligence Agency which were exposed in 1967 caused that organization to disband a year later.

World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) Founded in 1945, its headquarters were in Budapest. Initially, many bona fide youth organizations joined the organization in the belief that they were founding a non-political organization for bringing theyouth of all races and countries together. By 1950, after the Communists had captured all key posts and turned the WFDY into a pro-Soviet propaganda organization, most of the non-Communists had left to found their own organization, the World Assembly of Youth (WAY). The WFDY continued to propose that the WFDY and WAY should work together.

On October 15-16, 2016, the Second international preparatory meeting for the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students was held in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. The final version of the program was approved during the Third meeting of the International Preparatory Committee in March 2017 in Sri Lanka. 19th World Festival of Youth and Students united 20,000 young leaders from more than 150 countries. The WFYS aims to consolidate international youth community, strengthen international ties, as well as promote international and intercultural cooperation. Russia hosted the Festival twice in 1957 (the 6th Festival) and in 1985 (the 12th Festival). The 6th World Festival of Youth and Students-1957, held in Moscow, had the widest scope in terms of the number in the history of the Festival movement. The host country covered their expenses related to accommodation, meals and cultural program during the event.

International Union of Students (IUS) Founded in 1946, its headquarters were in Prague. In the beginning, students of all political persuasions thought they were founding a representative organization of democratic students of the whole world. The participants really did represent the various political and religious tendencies. LUnion Nationale des tudiants Franais (UNEF) attended; as did the National Union of Students of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NUS) and quite a strong delegation from the American National Coordinating Committee. The communists had been able to organize a world youth federation without the participation of the British SCNVYO or the French UPOJ; but they knew they could not create a credible international student organization without the NUS, the UNEF or the Americans.

One of the key methods for Soviet domination of groups like the IUS was through financial means. Early financial support for the 1946 Congress probably came from the Czech goverment, and later support from other East European sources. The IUS established itself as a well organized student international but at the same time was firmly entrenched as an international'spekesman for the Communist position on international and student affairs.

The Second IUS Congress, which took place in Prague in August, 1950 convinced non-Communist unions that cooperation with the IUS was no longer possible. By 1951, most non-Communists had left the IUS because of its pro-Soviet activities. The non-Communist student unions who left the IUS formed the Co-ordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students (COSEC), with head-quarters in Holland. COSEC organized the biennial International Student Conference (ISC). The IUS maintaind contact with several national unions of students which were no longer members; it also tried to keep contact with the World University Service (WUS) and religious organizations such as the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). It continued to try to promote 'united action' with COSEC and its members.

The subsequent careers of important IUS and WFDY leaders would indicate that rising young men are detailed to these organizations for training, and that this field was particularly important to the Soviet Union. Aleksander Shelepin was the most prominent example, having served from 1946 to 1959 as an officer of the IUS and WFDY; another youth leader on the international level was V.Y.Semichasty. Both of these men became, successively, Chairman of the Committee for State Security (KGB). The Student Council of the USSR was a member of IUS. Both the Committee of Youth Organizations of the USSR, and the All-Union Komsomol, were members of the WFDY.

The IUS is the only general worldwide student organisation, compiled of National Union of Students or National Student Representative Organisations. The membership is drawn from a broad political base. Since the big changes in the organisation in 1992 the IUS claims that it is no longer a communist front organisation.

World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Founded in 1945, its headquarters were in Prague. The World Federation of Trade Unions, founded almost simultaneously with the United Nations and inspired by the ephemeral unity prevailing in the final months of World War II, was intended to serve as a world force promoting unity and understanding between national labor organizations. Although the initiative for its founding came from the British Trades Union Congress, and numerous non-Communist organizations were affiliated, by 1949 the position of the non-Communists had become intolerable. The WFTU was a classic example of the capture of a democratically-controlled organization by the manipulations of a Communist faction.

In 1949, the non-Communists withdrew from the WFTU and established their own organization, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU); it established its headquarters in Brussels. The withdrawal, in January 1949, of the American, British and Netherlands members of the Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions resulted basically from (1) the East-West cleavage as reflected in the labor movement, and (2) Communist exploitation of their control of the WFTU Secretariat for Communist propaganda and organizational ends. The British Trades Union Congress (TUC), the CIO, and the Netherlands Federation of Labor (NVV), having come to the conclusion that they could no longer remain associated with the organization, broke their connection at the January meeting of the Executive Bureau.

Because of the size of the WFTU, its well-organized machinery, its status in the UN and its pretence of defending the worker, it has probably had more international influence than any other front organization. It also remained potentially the most dangerous of the front organizations because of the number of persons it controlled. Even after the withdrawal of practically all the non-Communist centers, which may be expected to take place during 1949, the WFTU will remain far more active and influential than the pre-war Pro-fintern (Red International of Labor Unions). The affiliation of the majority centers in France and Italy (CGT and CGIL), which were still under Communist control, provides a Western European base useful for propaganda purposes.

The WFTU was the only front organization to enjoy the privelege of Category A consultative status with ECOSOC, ILO, FAO and UNESCO. In addition, it took an active part in the UN regional organizations, the Economic Commission for Europe and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. Official CPSU direction was more clearly identified than was the usual case: Victor Grishin, WFTU vice president, was chairman of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, the USSR affiliate, and a member of the CPSU Politburo.

Eleven World Trade Union Congresses had been organized by the WFTU over the 46 years since the Milan Congress in 1949. The 13th World Trade Union Congress (Damascus, 1994) was attended by 418 participants from 160 national, local, regional and international trade union organizations, representing more than 300 million workers from 84 countries on every continent.

Today the World Federation of Trade Unions representing 92 million workers in the 5 continents. Following the 15th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions, the WFTU turned a page and traced a new, modern, fighting course. "Struggle for the workers rights. Unity of all workers towards monopolies and Imperialists. For peace and progress. Solidarity with the people suffering threats and attacks from USA and their allies. All peoples to have the right to self-determination.Right to education and training, to free health for all children of the working class without discriminations and class barriers. Equal rights for men and women."

World Peace Council (WPC) The Communist world peace movement dates from 1948; in 1949 the World Connittee of Partisans of Peace was renamed the World Peace Council, later the World Council of Peace, and finally reverting to World Peace Council. It had been more successful than other Communist front organizations in winning non-Communist support.

The World Peace Council (WPC) was the Soviet Union's single most important international front organization. It was usually the first of the various front groups to respond to new Moscow propaganda initiatives and it coordinates the activities of a number of other front groups. The WPC Presidential Committee included the top leaders of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF), International Union of Students (IUS) and Christian Peace Conference (CPC).

Although the WCP Secretariat was forced to leave Vienna in 1957, it continued to operate from a cover organization established there - the International Institute for Peace (IIP). Ostensibly a research institute associated with the WCP, the IIP was effectively the WCP Secretariat despite the fiction. Although many front organizations were interlinked, the WCP alone had official representatives of most of the others sitting on its Council. Because the WCP's appeal was widespread, it used the other fronts to support and publicize campaigns and propaganda.

The Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace was a member of the WCP. Among Soviet personnel at WCP headquarters in the 1960s were Nikolai Matkovsky and Nikolai Bazanov, both of whom were previously identified as members of the CPSU's International Department.

As an NGO member of the United Nations, the WPC cooperates with UNESCO, UNCTAD, UNIDO, ILO and other UN specialized agencies, special committees and departments; with the Non-Aligned Movement as official observer, the African Union, the League of Arab States and other inter-governmental bodies.

The peace movement led by the WPC appeared to be taking an expanding role in Soviet agitprop operations in 1977, partly to counter the adverse propaganda effect of increasing shipments of Soviet military supplies to such countries as Angola, Libya and Ethiopia and Moscow's supporting role in such conflicts as the Ethiopian-Somali confrontation and the victory of the MPLA in Angola over two non-Marxist liberation groups.

Everybody is for peace, and Moscow capitalized on this fact for years by coupling the idea of peace with any number of Soviet policy initiatives, attempting to encourage broad acceptance of Soviet formulas for resolving international conflicts, ranging from Angola to Cyprus, with the most emphasis on Moscow's solutions for problems of disarmament and detente.

The WPC boasted an impressive organization chart, listing a president, 22 vice-presidents and about 120 additional members of a Presidential Committee chosen from affiliated peace organizations in more than 50 countries and from a number of other international front organizations. Romesh Chandra, a ranking member of the Indian Communist Party for many years, was named President at the 1977 WPC congress in Warsaw -- the first to hold this office since the death of F. Joliot-Curie in 1958. Chandra had been a faithful supporter of Soviet policies in his earlier post of WPC secretary-general since 1966.

Today, the World Peace Council represents itself as "an anti-imperialist, democratic, independent and non-aligned international movement of mass action. It is an integral part of the world peace movement and acts in cooperation with other international and national movements. The WPC is the largest International Peace structure, based in more than 100 countries.... The WPC initiates and cooperates in actions to eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and to reduce conventional arms. It also acts in particular for the dissolution of military blocks and pacts; the dismantling of all military bases and the withdrawal of foreign troops..."

International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) Founded in 1946, its headquarters were currently in Brussels. Many non-Communist lawyers originally joined the organization, but by l949 most non-Communiste had resigned because of the pro-Soviet position of the LADL. The IADL assisted the WCP in campaigns against atomic weapons, the WFTU in its "struggle for trade union rights," and had been in the forefrontof the 'anti-colonial' struggle. Individual Soviets are members of LADL.

Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF) Founded in 1945, its headquarters were in Berlin (Soviet Sector). The WIDF had been under Communist control from the beginning; although a few non-Communist women's organizations joined, these had not included women's groups of any importance. Since i945, the WIDF appropriated International Women's Day, originally a Social Democratic celebration. The Committee of Soviet Women was a member of WIDF. The head of the Soviet Women's Committee and a vice president of WIDF in the 1960s was N.V.Popova, Central Committee member of the CPSU.

Teacherg World Federation of Teachers' Unions (FISE) Founded in 1946, its headquarters are currently in Prague, althougha Paris office is still used for liaison with other international organizations. It never attracted much non-Communist support. It became a Trade Department of the WFTU only in 1949, when the free trade unions left the WFTU. Most of FISE's members came from the Soviet orbit; the leading Western teachers' organizations were affiliated to the non-Communist World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP). The USSR Union of Educational and Scientific Workers was a member of FISE.

International Organization of Journaliste (IOJ) Founded in 1946, its headquarters was in Prague. Originally, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists of Allied and Free Countries were disbanded, and merged with the IOJ. The Communists gradually turned the IOJ into a front organization under their control, however, and by 1950 all non-Communist unions had withdrawn. Those who left the IOJ restarted the IFJ in 1952. The IOJ made periodic proposals for cooperation with the IFJ. The USSR Union of Journalist was a member of IOJ.

World Federation of Scientific Workers (WFSW) Founded in 1946, its headquarters was in London. At its founding conference, organized by the British Association of Scientific Workers, eighteen organizations of scientists from 14 countries were represented. Although it purported to be a non-political organization, Communists succeeded in obtaining most of the official posts and retained control ever since. The only large non-Communist affiliation is that of Britain Association of Scientific Workers, but affiliated organizations also existed (as of 1964) in Denmark, France, India, Japan, Portugal and the United States. Many members of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR were active in WFSW.

International Radio and Television Organization (OIRT) Founded in 1946, its headquarters were in Prague. Although many countries took part in its founding, in 1950 the British Broadcasting Corporation took the initiative in setting up a rival body, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). All leading non-Communist organizations left the OIRT, mostly to join the EBU. In 1964, OIRT members were organizations of Communist countries, plus Finland, Mali, Iraq and the UAR.

International Federation of Resistance Movements (FIR) Founded in 1951, its headquarters was in Vienna; a small secretariat was also maintained in Paris. Since its foundation, FIR mainly comprised Communist groups. It tried since 1962 to establish a working agreement with the non-Communist World Veterans' Federation (WWF). FIR claimed a membership drawn from about 44 organizations in 19 European countries and Israel. The Soviet Committee of War Veterans and Partisans was a member of FIR.

Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) Created in 1957, at Soviet and Chinese initiative, the AAPSO permanent secretariat was in Cairo. The Soviets outmaneuvered the Chinese, and were apparently in firm control of the organization. Created to exploit anti-colonial sentinents in Asia and Africa, it had approximately 75 member organizations in these areas (including the USSR). AAPSO's evident purpose was to further Soviet international objectives by exacerbating tensions with Western powers, increasing Communist influence in the newly independent countries, and providing a mechanism through which African and Asian political ieaders could easily receive money and guidance. The principal objectivesof AAPSO were (a) to issue propaganda in support of Communist anti-imperialist policies; and (b) to support with arms, training and funds, militant liberation movements and radical political parties which are in opposition to their own pro-Western governments.

The Organization flourished in the 1960s during the escalating liberation struggles and crowned its successes in the 1970s with the victory achieved by the people of South Africa against Apartheid and racial discrimination. Liberation struggles were behind the birth and independence of numerous Afro-Asian countries that suffered under the yoke of imperialism. The Palestinian people's issue and peace process in the Middle East continues to be one of the major concerns of the Organization that supports the establishment of a free and independent Palestinian state. The organization was fully aware of these events and shouldered its new responsibility by incorporating them in its agenda and in the activities of its national committees.

The delegates and observers participating in the international conference organized by AAPSO, Nepal in Kathmandu on 18-19 April, 2015, to mark the 60th anniversary of Bandung conference with the theme "Vision of Bandung After 60 years: Facing New Challenges".

Afro-Asian-Latin American Peoples Solidarity Organization (AALAPSO) As a result of the Tri-Continent Conference held in Havana in January 1966, a permanent Afro-Asian-Latin American Peoples Solidarity Organization was established with headquarters in Havana. The avowed purpose of the organization was to combat "United States imperialism" in the underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asian and Latin America. In effect, AALAPSO broadened the base of AAPSO by providing means of coordination between like-minded Communist and pro-Communist organizations in Latin American and the African and Asian members of AAPSO. The Tri-Continent Conference set up three permanent bodies in Havana (AALAPSO Permanent Secretariat; AALAPSO Cornmittee of Assistance and Aid to National Liberantion Movements and of Struggle Against Neo-Colonialism; and Tri-Continental Committee for Support to the People of Vietnam). In addition, the Latin American Solidarity Organization was established separately by the 27 Latin American delegations at the conference. Also headquartered in Havana, this solidarity organization acted for Latin America much as AAPSO functioned for Africa and Asia. The Soviet Committee for the Solidarity of Asian and African Countries was a member of AAPSO and AALAPSO.

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