The highest ranking defector to flee from the old Soviet bloc has a message to share about Vladimir Putin — he’s still a KGB agent at heart and that mindset is heavily influencing his tactics for furthering Russia’s interests.
Ion Mihai Pacepa was the head of the Romanian communist regime’s foreign intelligence service before he defected to the West in 1978. Due to the threats on his life, Pacepa refuses to appear in public, but he has communicated his message to the co-author of his most recent book ”Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism.”
Pacepa’s co-author, Ronald Rychlak, spoke with The Daily Caller on Friday on Pacepa’s opinion that Putin has created an “intelligence agency dictatorship” in Russia that’s heavily composed of ex-KGB agents and how they use the tactics of their old organization to govern the country.
“About five years ago, Pacepa was warning me about Putin. He’s saying Putin is former KGB, Putin has surrounded himself with KGB people everywhere, it is now in essence an ‘intelligence agency dictatorship’,” Rychlak, a professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, told TheDC.
This was in stark contrast to the perception that Putin was presenting a new face for Russia that was turning away from the bad days of the Soviet Union. To Pacepa, that perception was wrong.
“Pacepa was ahead of the curve in teaching me about Putin’s bad intent before I saw the stuff on the news. I think today that everyone will concede that it’s a bad situation, but Pacepa has known it for some time,” Rychlak said.
According to Rychlak, the “disinformation” tactics practiced by Russian intelligence agencies, which Pacepa also practiced in his time as a Communist spy master, explain much of what is going on in Ukraine. In Rychlak’s opinion, Russian agencies have subverted the institutions that Eastern Ukrainians rely on for information and has caused some of them to support Putin’s interests by demanding Russian annexation.
“All of their news has been filtered through Russian sources and even their church has been infiltrated. Their sources of information for at least a decade and maybe much longer than that, have been controlled,” the law professor explained. “They have been cultivated and shaped and controlled through Moscow.”
One of the most damning accusations that Rychlak levels at Putin’s security apparatus is that it has infiltrated and influenced the Russian Orthodox Church to promote the interests of the Kremlin.
“Dating back to the 1960s, the Kremlin began sending agents into the Russian Orthodox Church, and a lot of those people have filtered up to higher levels. The Russians put people into these churches, knowing they were agents, hoping they would develop into influential positions, and many of them have,” Rychlak continued. “The church has been tainted, as other churches have been under Soviet domination.”
Another powerful tool that the Kremlin now has is the English-language news channel Russia Today (RT), which is an outlet funded by Moscow. As Liz Wahl’s on-air resignation highlighted, RT exists to promote the agenda of the Russian government and the channel presents a radically different perspective of world events when compared with American news networks.
“It fits perfectly with past tactics. When you watch RT, you see a clear perspective on the news that is very different from what you’re gonna see — whether it’s on Fox or whether it’s on MSNBC — you’re not going to get the same perspective on Russian TV,” Rychlak commented.
The book “Disinformation” points out that Soviet intelligence agencies frequently worked with left-wing Westerners, such as the anti-war movement against Vietnam, to further the cause of the USSR. According to Rychlak, the current Russian government still uses the Left for that purpose, as he claims that their ideology isn’t too far removed from that of the old Soviet regime.
“You still have folks around the globe, some of whom actively collaborate with the Soviet-Marxist ideology that we still see from Putin. Others who are maybe not intentionally collaborate, what you would call willing dupes, who go along with it,” the “Disinformation” co-author said.
He believes it is imperative that the U.S. engage in an war of information with the Russian Federation to promote American ideology in the countries of the former Soviet bloc.
“We in the West have to recognize that there is an ideological battle for hearts and minds,” the Rychlak stated. “We can’t let up. … There needs to be a campaign for truth.”