The United Nations Library: Putting Soviet Disinformation intoCirculation

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The United Nations Library: Putting Soviet Disinformation intoCirculation

February 18, 1986 14 min read Download Report
Stuart M.
(Archived document, may contain errors)

487 February 18, 1986 THE UNITED NATIONS LIBRARY PUTTING SOVltT DlSINFORMATlON INTO CIRCUIATION INTRODUCTI N The Dag Hammarskjold Library at the United Nations Headquarters has become a Soviet outpost this important facility since 19

64. Just how effectively they have exploited this responsibility--and hence distorted the Library's functioning--becomes obvious from a glance at the U.N. Library subj ect index. It is a triumph of Orwellian Newspeak. Look under Itaggression Only one nation is listed by name: South Africa. There is not a'clue that Soviet trooljs have invaded Afshanistan. Look under Soviet nationals have been in charge of Itcensorship It Only two nations- are mentioned: Sokh Africa and Israel.

IITerritories Occupied by Israeltt is a separate category bulging with over 75 entries. There are no corresponding categories such as ItTerritories Occupied by the Soviet Uniontt or "Territories Occ upied by I Vietnam,It in spite of the existence of such territories I i In two decades, the Soviets have turned the Headquarters Library The Soviets assigned to the Library routinely use it to in New York into a front for Soviet disinformation and covert o perations o circumvent travel restrictions inside the U.S o corroborate espionage materials obtained from other sources c gain easy access to selected U.S. data bases and materials through inter-library loans o complement Soviet activities in other U.N. o ffices and departments; and, perhaps most serious, o influence the delegations from Third World countries, many of whom rely on the U.N. Library as their primary information source.

Declares a retired U.N. librarian of Soviet exploitation of the library: "It Is scandalous.

And it is costly. The 1986-1987 U.N. Headquarters Library budget has been set at $15,085,400 , of which the U.S. will contribute 25 percent. This means that the U.S. bankrolls directly Soviet espionage activities in the U.S. and Soviet anti-West disinformation campaigns. I This is not the purpose for which the U.S. taxpayers believe their money i s being spent. Nor is it the purpose for which the U.N.

Headquarters Library was established.

I WHAT THE LIBRARY DOES The Library opened its doors in 19

46. In 1949, the United Nations Fifth Committee (Administration and Budget Questions) established gui delines for the functioning of the Headquarters Library. These included that the Library would "enable delegations, Secretariat, and other official groups of the organization to obtain, with the greatest possible speed, convenience and economy, the librar y materials and information needed in the execution of their duties Since 1952, the Headquarters Library has been located at the corner of 48th Street and U.N. Plaza in Manhattan.

The Headquarters Library in New York and the U.N. Library in Geneva serve as repositories for U.N. documents and perform archival Organization (UNIDO) has a library in Vienna. U.N. libraries also are attached to the Economic and Social Commission for Latin America Santiago the Economic and Social Commission for South East Asia Ba n gkok), and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Baghdad functions. In addition, the United Nations Industrial and Development I In spending its more than $15 million budget, the Headquarters Library houses just 400,000 plus volumes and 2,00 0 current periodicals; employs 152 professional, general service, support, and other personnel; and provides document services for the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Councils and their subsidiaries, the Trusteeship Council, Interna t ional Court of Justice the Secretariat, and more than a dozen other U.N. bodies. Along with the Geneva library, the Headquarters Library assists with archival functions; processes over 15,000 masters and 600,000 duplicate U.N documents every year; publish e s the United Nations Document Index UNDOC); operates the computerized United Nations Bibliographic Information System UNBIS 11 serves as the procurement agency for the more than 100 projects administered by the U.N. Department for 2Technical Cooperation f or Development; services the more than 300 libraries throughout the world designated as U.N. document depositories; and publishes the newsletter U.N. Documentation News The Geneva Library operates under the auspices of the U.N.

Department of Conference Ser vices, which for the past decade has been controlled by Poland. In terms of sheer numbers, the Geneva Library is larger than its New York counterpart, containing almost one million volumes and more than 12,000 periodicals millions of U.N. documents distri buted annually come out of Geneva.

The Geneva facility's primary mission is to serve as a research and documentation center for international organizations. It publishes weekly bibliographies and a list of "selected articles It indexes official U.N. docume nts from U.N. agencies and offices based in Geneva and has electronic data base capabilities (EURONET and UNBIS 11). The Geneva Library is linked to U.N. libraries in Baghdad, Bangkok, and Santiago. It employs 48 and has a 1986-1987 budget of $4.18 millio n Almost half of the tens of The Vienna Library services UNIDO conferences. It employs seven and has a 1986-1987 budget of slightly under $600,000.

While these U.N. libraries perform many appropriate functions the control of the large New York and Geneva f acilities by East bloc personnel has raised concern among current.and former U.N. diplomats and employees The West just caves in says a former U.N librarian The directorship [of the U.N. Library in New York] was supposed to be a rotating position. The Sov i ets have. held it since 1964." U.S. government publications catalogues line almost an entire wall of the New York Library's main reference room, providing easy access for information 0xiU.S. high technology topics from microcircuits to microbiology any pa r ticular subject but, according to a source who used to work in the Library, devour ''whatever whets their current appetite The appetite for information on U.S. technology topics is growing. While photocopying costs are not tracked, on-line data retrieval c osts for services including NEXIS, a costly electronic information and press clipping service, have increased by almost 400 percent since 1983 The Soviets apparently do not focus on PERSONNEL PROBLEMS Article 100 of the U.N. Charter states, "In the perfor m ance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority ext cT*-7 to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as inte r national officials responsible only to the Organization.11 In short, this key Charter Article supposedly establishes an international civil service that serves only the U.N. and severs ties to its own countries. This is the,theory 3The facts are very diff erent--particularly regarding Soviet bloc nationals.

U.N. offices, from the Secretariat on down, are loaded with Soviet, SoviFt bloc, and client state personnel who habitually ignore Article 1

00. They report to and take orders from Soviet diplomats posted at the U.N. The Soviet bloc personnel at the U.N. Library are no exception. In fact, because of its relative obscurity, the U.N.

Library is an ideal place for Moscow to stash Soviet personnel, who use their jobs as cover to perform other tasks in the U.S.

Observes one former Library supervisor of a newly assigned Soviet librarian: "He had never seen the inside of a 1ibrary'before.I' Other Soviet employees openly told this supervisor that they were leaving their posts on official Library time to visit th e Soviet Mission. The Library director, a Soviet, often called bogus meetings that involved only Soviet Library personnel generally unqualified for their assignments. Says a retired U.N librarian, "They [the East Europeans] never would have been accepted i f they came from other countries East bloc personnel in the Library are s U.N. Librarv Directors JN.Y.1 since 1948 Nationalitv Term Carl H. Milam USA 1948-1950 Edouard Rietman France 1950-1954 Dr. Rubens Borba deMoraos Brazil 1954-1958 Dr. Josef Stummvoll Austria 1959-1963 Lev I. Vladimirov USSR 1964-1970 Mrs. Natalia Tyulina USSR 1970-1978 Dr. Vladimir Orlov USSR 1979-1985 Lengvard Khitrov USSR 1985 Vladimir Orlov, the immediate past U.N. Library director probably exploited his post more skillfully than a ny Soviet before or since. He joined the Library's professional staff in 19

62. During his first two weeks on the payroll, he did.not turn up at a1.1; allegedly he was too busy l.c.:t'ig a suitable apartment. After several tours of duty, Orlov became Library director in April 19

79. He retired in May 1. See Arkady Shevchenko, Breaking With Moscow (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985 419

85. Orlov traveled extensively throughout the U.S., often to attend library conferences restrictions the U.S. imposes on Soviet citizens.

Orlov arrived in the city hosting an American Library Association Conference, got off the airplane, "but never showed up at the conference.Il What he was doing is subject to speculation one source who worked in th e Library confirmed that Orlov's was typical Soviet behavior This enabled him to evade the'travel On one such trip More than But Orlov accomplished much during his yearstas Library director. Writing in the Wilson Librarv Bulletin Orlov Boasted of the lfex t ensive weeding programs carried out by the library" to keep its collection within a 400,000 volume range, but noted that the Library did house hundreds of selected magazines Ilfrom all over the world.Il acknowledged that "no attempt is made to assemble co m prehensive collections 11 Perhaps Orlov was more revealing than he intended when he An analysis of key areas in the subject catalogue reveals the diligence of Orlovls Ilweeding" program. What emerges is an anti-U.S anti-West, and pro-Soviet bias that, tho u gh often subtle, is nonetheless undeniable It was done very cleverly," says a former Library emp1oyee.I' Orlovls celebrated "weedingbt program loaded the Library with "low grade" Latin American and East bloc publications rife with anti-Western views. Excl uded are qualitatively superior materials from other sources, explains more than one observer of the Library's operations. The subject index makes this very clear.

THE STACKED DECK Compare the U.N. Library index's treatment of democracy and communism. Under "democracy," there are 39 listings in the subject catalogue; under "communism, 110.

Compare capitalism and socialism. Under llcapitalism,ll there are 34 listings; under 1

12. The capitalism entries include o Capitalism, The Second Crisis o Imperialism, Intervention and Development o Inequality, Crime, and Public Policy o Socioeconomic Policies .f f pitalism in Crisis 2. April 1983, pp. 642-645 5o Crisis, Contradictions, and Conservative Controversies in Contemporary U.S. Capitalism.

By contrast, the so cialism catalogue entries include such laudatory or neutral titles as o The Economics of Feasible Socialism o An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Marxism, Socialism, and Communism o Nations and Social Progress o The Policy of Non-Alignment and Socialism as a Wo r ld Process o Soviet Perspectives on the Third World o The Transition from Capitalism to Socialism o The CPSU [Communist Party, Soviet Union] in the Struggle for Unity of All Revolutionary and Peace Forces Liberation Movements1# would seem to be an entry o f interest to I the Library, for such movements are raging in more than half a dozen countries. Yet there is only one listing: "Soviet Perspectives on the Third Wor1d.I' No other reference is provided for the Library user interested in liberation movements I Under "Freedom of Speech," nothing is listed for the Soviet I Union, although hundreds of scholars and journalists have reviewed the I situation there. Under "Freedom of Speech--Israel," however, the catalogue lists one: "Restrictions,on the Freedom of Expression of the State Employee in Israel." Under Freedom of Speech--United Kingdom the catalogue lists "The Recent Decline and Fall of Freedom of the Press in English Law the Soviet Union.

Under I'Freedom of Information,tv again, there is no listing for The Soviet Union is well represented in Orlovls U.N. Library catalogue, however,.under the heading of "Peace.l' There are twice as many listings under IfPeace--USSR" as under "Peace--United States. The listings tell the story. The U.S. listings contain su c h entries as I o Policy of Missed Opportunities o Religious Perspectives on the Nuclear Weapons Debate o Third World Perspectives on Regional Arrangements for Peace and Security 6The Soviet listings contain I o The Soviet Peace Program in Action o The Sov iet Union Proposes o 20th Century and Peace.

Under "Chemical and Biological Warfare," on the other hand, there are more than twice as many listings for the United States as for the USSR, despite the use of Soviet chemical and biological weapons in Laos, Ca mbodia, and Afghanistan IGenocide although it does feature an article on "The Debate Over the Genocide Treaty" in the United States. Similarly, the listings are sparse under the heading IIHuman Rights Violations." Under the subcategory, IvHuman Rights Vio l ations--USSR,I' only one entry is listed, having to do with Afghanistan I The U.N. Library subject catalogue has little information under The Library maintains 2,000 current periodicals, including an overwhelming number from East bloc and Latin American n ations.

The East bloc and Latin American journals deal almost exclusively with economics and other social science topics. While the Library does not keep a complete list of the periodicals received, a Soviet reference librarian showed The Heritage Foundati on a list of 803 of the !!most importantll periodicals. They include U.S publications deal mostly with technical or international law issues I o African Communist I o Development and Peace, published by the World Peace Council of Hungary o Journal of Pale stine Studies o Misration Todav, published by the World Council of churches o New Times, a radical left-wing American magazine o Peace and Disarmament, published by the USSR.

Such mainstream periodicals with wide circulation as Time Newsweek, and The Economist are not on the list of "most important" periodicals.

Anyone relying on the U.N. Library as a research tool could draw o Capitalism is a thoroughly discredited mode of economic the following conclusions development 7-o Press restrictions exist only in Israel, South Africa, and the o The Soviet Union is more interested in peace than is the United United Kingdom.

States. rights record. o Outside of Afghanistan, the Soviets have an exemplary human o The United States is the leading proponent of chemical warfare.

Such conclusions accurately reflect two decades of Soviet control of the Library. Vladimir Orlov's "weeding" program has yielded a blighted harvest of anti-Western bias. His-successor, Lengvard Khitrov, has continued this program, unabated and unchallenged maintaining the U.N. Library as an essential component of far-flung Soviet disinformation and espionage activities within the United Nations. The program is aimed squarely at Third World delegations who, because of limit e d national resources, rely disproportionately on the Library for information No question,vv says a retired 'U.N librarian, Ilinformation is planted in the library in an attempt to influence Third World delegates. The information is "biased It reflects an anti-Western view," says another source close to the Library.

THE U.N. LIBRARY AND THE SOVIET U'.N. DISINFORMATION NETWORK Soviet, East bloc, and client state nationals hold key positions virtually all U.N. information is gathered, stored, and disseminated.

Soviet and Soviet bloc personnel run the U.N. Library in New York; the U.N. Department of Conference Services, which controls the U.N.

Library in Geneva; and the U.N. Department of Public Information's within the vast U.N. information network. Together , they control how I DPI) External Relations Division (ERD I Lengvard Khitrov, a Soviet, controls the Library and has major responsibility for the types of publications maintained and the categories under which they are indexed. As Library director, he co n trols the most important personnel assignments. The kind of people he and his predecessors have appointed to the Library operate.what a top-ranking U.N. official described as "a rathole for Soviet spies Khitrov also approves staff travel to conferences an d visits to the 327 libraries worldwide that serve as depositories for U.N documents. The Library's tentacles reach all the way to the U.N.

Secretariat, where its legislative reference division is located 8c Eugeniusz Wyzner, a Polish national, is Undersecretary General for the Department of Conference Services, which controls the U.N.

Library in Geneva. The Headquarters and Geneva Libraries share archival duties. Almost half of all public U.N. documents are processed through Geneva. The facilities share the common electronic data base UNBIS

11. Geneva coordinates with other U.N. libraries worldwide, notably those of the Economic and Social Commission. The director of the Department of Conference Services Publishing Division Vladimir Grechko, is a Soviet of Public Information (DPI). DPI is one of the largest departments within the U.N., employing more than 800 personnel who operate from U.N. headquarters, an Information Service in Geneva, and 64 U.N.

Information Centers (UNICs) worldwide. DPI staff produc e a myriad of publications, press releases, and press conferences, DPI's External Relations Division (ERD) maintains contact with schools and governmental and nongovernmental entities outside the U.N., dispatches 16,000 yearly information cables to the UN I Cs, and is the principal nongovernmental organizations The Headquarters Library works closely with the U.N. Department source for 120 "briefing notes3and round-ups1' distributed annually to I Anatoly Mkrychan, a Soviet, heads DPIIs External Relations Divi s ion. Former U.N. Undersecretary-General Arkady Shevchenko, who defected to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1978, has identified Mkrychan as a KGB colonel. Shevchenkolmaintains that the post has been held by a KGB officer since 1968 Together, Khitrov, Wy z ner, and Mkrychan control U.N. research functions, much of its "institutional memory1' through the libraries archival services, and dissemination of U.N. documents and propaganda through the depository libraries and the External Relations Division of DPI. Coordinated through these three positions and numerous ancillary ones, Soviet, Soviet bloc, and client state personnel have created, and maintain, a formidable disinformation network inside the U.N 3. See Roger A. Brooks The U.N. Department of Public Info rmation: A House of Mirrors,"

Heritage Foundation Backarounder No. 332, February 23, 1984 4. Juliana Geran Pilon Moscow's U.N. Outpost Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 307, November 22, 1983, p. 10 9U.N. LIBRARY: A DEN OF SPIES Last spring, evidence wa s presented to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that confirmed what some U.N. Library critic? have known for some time: the U.N. Library is a den of spies. The Senate Conmitteels report notes that "One example of Soviet use of U.N. cover [ f or spying] involves Anatoliy Andreyev, an intelligence officer who worked as a U.N. librarian met a civilian employee of the U.S. military at a librarians conference on Long Island. After a year of exchanging unclassified documents, Andreyev offered to he l p the military employee financially in exchange for specific documents after a quiet protest from the U.S. Mission.11e photocopying and data retrieval services. It reveals that "The Soviets use the U.N. copying facilities and have shipped boxes of technic a l literature back to the USSR at no cost to the Soviet government. As the Soviets have assumed more responsible positions as directors of research programs, they have been able to establish databases of specific interest to the Soviet Union, again at U.N e xpense 11 In 1973 Andreyev Andreyev left the United States That report also uncovered Soviet abuses of U.N. Library CONCLUSION For over 20 years, the Soviets and their operatives have used the U.N. Library system to cover and support far-ranging espionage activities at U.N. expense. They have manipulated Library resources for propaganda purposes and thereby have denied U.N. member delegations access to the first-class, balanced research facility to which they are entitled. This is especially true for Third World delegations, who rely disproportionately on U.N. Library facilities for the important resource material needed in the course of their U.N duties.

Soviet, Soviet bloc, and client state personnel who run the U.N.

Library in New York and the Department of Conference Services, which controls the U.N. Library in Geneva, violate.Article 100 of the U.N.

Charter. They do not now nor have they ever behaved as international 5 i's sort of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 99th Congress, 1st Session May 1985 6. Ibid p. 14 7. Ibid p. 16 10 -civil servants. There is no reason for their activities to be funded by the U.S. taxpayer. Nor is there any reason for U.S. funds to be spent on a U.N. Library that fails to function as a neutral source of informa tion for the U.N. community, as its founders intended.

Because of its long record of abusing its trust, the U.N. Library should be investigated by the U.S. Congress. Its activities should be monitored by the U.S. Mission to the U.N. And it should be put on notice that it will lose U.S. funding unless it regains U.S. trust.

Prepared for The Heritage Foundation by Mark Huber a Washington consultant J 11 -


Stuart M.