February 18, 1986 | Backgrounder on Russia
The United Nations Library: Putting Soviet Disinformation intoCirculation
(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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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.
Prepared for The Heritage Foundation by Mark Huber a Washington
consultant J 11 -