Grand Strategy in the Age of Mass Destruction

The Hidden USSR

Commentary of 24 February 2014

Last week Tennent “Pete” Bagley passed away. He was an important person in CIA history, especially in terms of the unraveling of American intelligence which began in the 1960s – an unraveling that brings us to the present crisis which is playing itself out in Kiev and Washington. As of today, a war has broken out in Eastern Europe between “the hidden Soviet Union,” as Boris Chykulay calls it, and the Ukrainian people. It is a war that has attained critical mass, with far-reaching ramifications.

Here is a joke: What has happened in Kiev should have already happened in Washington; but then, Ukrainians have learned the secret of successful counter-revolution by living under Soviet rule for many decades. The United States has only been under Soviet rule a few years.

Even if my joke (above) is beyond most readers, American socialism (like Soviet socialism) is nonetheless a corrupt bureaucratic system where government leaders are unaccountable even as private property and personal freedoms are unprotected. In Russia the socialist system had an additional feature: It made use of an old Tsarist institution – the secret police. The KGB of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics relied on Tsarist methods of controlled opposition and networks of secret agents, many of whom pretended to be enemies of the government.

Because of the KGB’s ability to infiltrate Moscow's opposition, all revolutions or political changes in former East Bloc countries are a puzzle. We can never be sure who has actually won until we see, after time has passed, whether power has really changed hands; that is, whether the old Communist elite remains in charge of the army and police, the media and economic system, and key government posts. The analysis here is simple to do, but nobody in the West tries doing it. There is no career advancement in such analysis, especially in Western countries where the powers-that-be hear what they want to hear, and blot out the rest. Bad news isn’t really marketable under the shopping mall regime. The moneyed classes want to invest in the newly liberated countries of the “former” Soviet empire. The appeal to greed has already won them over – end of discussion.   

Therefore, the Soviet Empire remains intact through the operation of hidden structures. KGB-controlled opposition was the story in 1989 and 1991. It has always been the untold story. It will continue to be untold until the hidden Soviet Union is taken down, at long last. I have spoken to schoolmates of Vaclav Havel who described him as the perfect instrument of the Communist state – as a fake dissident and a man who could be trusted by the KGB. In 1992 a Fighting Solidarity leader told me that Lech Walesa was a long-time stooge of the Polish secret police. Since that time Walesa’s secret police codename (BOLEK) has been published (See “Interview with Historian Slawomir Cenckiewicz: ‘Positive Proof’ Lech Walesa was a Communist Spy”).

So let us fast-forward to the present: What has been happening in Ukraine? Who is on Moscow’s team in Kiev? Most of the parliament, for starters; Yulia Tymoshenko in particular; the heads of the security services and military, excepting all those who are secretly working with the Ukrainian underground. (To know that there is a powerful underground movement, with its own tentacles burrowed into Moscow, is not mere optimism. It is the way of the world. The Ukrainians were Soviets, and as such they had access to the same game the Russians were playing on them. This must never be forgotten. One only has to think of Golitsyn's work, or the work of Viktor Suvorov. Ukrainians have experience, access, and a motivation for playing the Russians at their own game. Consequently, understanding what is actually happening in Ukraine is a delicate and difficult challenge, requiring careful analysis and detailed knowledge.)

The Kremlin has many weapons, many agents, and many deceptions at its command. A former socialist country must, in itself, resemble a “wilderness of mirrors.” The Communists like to confuse the political process in every country. This also applies to Germany, part of which was also a “Communist Country” (i.e., the German Democratic Republic). If we hear that (the conservative) German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now eager to meet with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has recently been let out of prison, we must first reckon with Merkel’s Communist past before we reckon with Tymoshenko’s role as Moscow’s little helper; for both women have a peculiar relationship to Moscow which extends far back in time.

A German journalist recently wrote to me about Merkel, saying that German intelligence attempted to warn the Christian Democrats that Merkel was “a dangerous person.” But the Christian Democrats didn’t listen, and now Germany is more dependent on Russian natural gas than ever before. As for the situation in Ukraine today, with the dramatic and apparent collapse of the Yanukovych government, I had the chance to speak with Ukrainian activist Boris Chykulay , who explained the situation as follows: “Instinctively people know that they fight against a hidden USSR. You can see this in all the cities now with the fall of so many Lenin monuments.”

Chykulay is proposing a lustration law which would prevent “former” Communists from holding public office in Ukraine. As the Wikipedia explains, “Lustration is the government process regulating the participation of former communists, especially informants of the communist secret police, in successor political appointee positions or in civil service positions … after the fall of the various European Communist states….” Lustration would be an important tool in restricting Communist access to power in Ukraine, paving the way for a fresh start. As Chykulay explained, “We need lustration law to limit the influence of the KGB … [and all remaining Soviet structures].” To fix what is wrong with Ukraine, noted Chykulay, the Ukrainians need to wipe away the hidden Soviet Republic at work beneath the surface of Ukrainian politics.

“The problem we now face,” Chykulay said, “is that Putin merely says goodbye to Mafiosi Yanukovych. Now he starts to work with normal agents.” As another activist explained, the politicians who are now coming forward to direct affairs are former Soviet Komsomol leaders (now in parliament), the most committed Communists of the old system. These are not democrats by any stretch of the imagination. According to Chykulay, these “normal Soviet agents” are telling the Maidan protestors to go home. The revolution has been won. “They are trying to keep the old system, without any result, without any changes, they want to close the case,” he explained. “Russia will try to control Ukraine through its old network; through Yulia Tymoshenko and others. She said, ‘Dear Ukrainians, I won’t let the government hurt you anymore.’ So you see, they already describe the Ukrainian government as something separate from the Ukrainian people. She doesn’t say the Ukrainians have any part in the government. They want to save the hidden Soviet structures. The Ukrainians are therefore told, in all seriousness, ‘you won’t be attacked.’”

Is there danger of Ukraine coming under direct attack? Could the Russians intervene with troops?

“Yes, Western Ukraine is a potential target,” Chykulay replied. “They will say the people in Lviv are fascists, and they will depict the Ukrainians as right wing extremists.” The Kremlin has, indeed, threatened to invade any former Soviet country where the rights of the local Russian-speaking minority are not respected. The case of Georgia in 2008 is a prime example. The only problem with carrying out such a military strike has to do with the reliability of the Russian troops and the reaction of Europe.

War is the last resort, of course. The Kremlin has many devices, and many tricks to play before things reach such an extremity. According to Chykulay, “This organization [the KGB] always has everything under control. They first kill this guy, then the next. In this way they stop the progress of the opposition. Then they cut the forest in another direction. Of course, they have things under control. They feel in control, but they are losing control beneath the surface. The internet leaves them at a loss.”

There is a cautious optimism on the part of Ukrainian activists. Previous attempts at freedom have been thwarted, it is true, but Maidan has good tactics and refuses to be fooled by Kremlin stooges. A Ukrainian analyst explained it thus: “As it happens, the people will not accept the leaders’ attempts to wiggle out. This morning Maidan had a massive meeting about Tymoshenko. They called it an ‘action meeting’ which was held against the return of Tymoshenko to politics. If she comes back, they said, the gangster clan will take over and nothing will change. They are demanding a total reset.”

The anti-Communist counter-revolution in Ukraine grows in power. Moscow sends its puppets into the meat-grinder. One is chewed up after another. Which will emerge as the new leader? Perhaps the controlled opposition game has exhausted its possibilities in Ukraine.

Time will tell.