CIA activities in Russia and Europe

CIA activities in Russia and Europe

This article deals with the activities of the United States Central Intelligence Agency in Russia and Europe.


European regional

Radio Free Europe (gray psychological operations)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a radio and communications organization funded by the United States Congress. It contrasts with the official US Voice of America.

It was founded in 1950 by the National Committee for a Free Europe. This Free Europe Committee, headed by John Foster Dulles, was an instrument of the CIA until RFE received its funds from the Congress of the United States and until 1971 they were passed to RFE through the CIA. During the earliest years of Radio Free Europe's existence, the CIA and the U.S. State Department issued broad policy directives, and a system evolved where broadcast policy was determined through negotiation between the CIA, the U.S. State Department, and RFE staff.

This system continued until the controversy surrounding Radio Free Europe's broadcasts to Hungary during the 1956 revolt. There is some evidence, however, that the CIA did involve itself in RFE projects at least through the mid-1950s.[1]

The CIA funding of RFE ended in 1971 at which point the organization was rechartered in Newton as a non-profit corporation, oversight was moved to the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB), and the budget was moved to open appropriations.

In 1990, RFE shared European offices with the Voice of America. In contrast to the Cold War days when both were jammed by the Soviets,

On a recent morning, about 30 staff members of Radio Moscow were waiting in the entrance lobby, which like all United States Government offices abroad is carefully guarded against terrorist attacks, to be taken on a tour of the building and meet Radio Liberty's broadcasters. Inside, three Czechoslovak journalism students are serving an internship, writing theses about the station for Prague University and contributing broadcast scripts.[2]

Where they once relied on underground reports material from other publications, and reports from other publications, RFE now has 19 bureaus throughout Europe, as well as 750 independent reporters.[3]

Western Europe

After World War II, there was serious concern that the Warsaw Pact, led by the Soviet Union, would attack and overrun Western Europe. From 1945 to 1948, there were ad hoc military stay-behind plans (see Clandestine HUMINT and Covert Action). In 1948, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was formed, under interagency but not CIA direction, to run behind-the-lines operations, probably including covert action behind the Iron Curtain. The separate Office of Special Operations had intelligence-gathering responsibilities.

A clandestine "stay-behind" operation was set up to counter a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe, using US and UK unconventional warfare specialists in the NATO participants. "Gladio" specifically referred to the network in Italy. Various Wikipedia articles assert the creation of Gladio-linked operations, see the articles for Belgian stay-behind network (Belgium), François de Grossouvre (France), Column 88 (UK), Grey Wolves (Turkey), and Projekt-26 (Switzerland).

Note that Switzerland was not in NATO. Projekt-26 personnel took courses from MI6, but there is no indication that MI6 had any operational control over Projekt-26.[4]

In 1952, the CIA Directorate of Plans was formed from the merger of OPC and OSO. United States Army Special Forces were established in June 1952, with the 10th Special Forces Group deploying to Bad Tölz, West Germany, in September. Special Forces had stay-behind unconventional warfare as one of their basic missions.

In 1967 it was revealed that the Congress of Cultural Freedom, founded in 1950, had been sponsored by the CIA. It published literary and political journals such as Encounter (as well as Der Monat in Germany and Preuves in France), and hosted dozens of conferences bringing together some of the most eminent Western thinkers; it also gave some assistance to intellectuals behind the Iron Curtain. The CIA states that, "Somehow this organization of scholars and artists — egotistical, free-thinking, and even anti-American in their politics — managed to reach out from its Paris headquarters to demonstrate that Communism, despite its blandishments, was a deadly foe of art and thought".[5]

On 24 January 2006, Dick Marty, the Council of Europe (CoE) Rapporteur on secret detentions and transport of alleged "enemy combatants" by the CIA, delivered his interim report concluding that European countries were almost certainly aware of CIA activities in Europe. On 22 February, the CoE Secretary General Terry Davis announced that most member states had replied to his questions concerning alleged CIA activities in Europe and that he would present his analysis on 1 March.

Eastern Europe


In 2003, the CIA interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at a black site in Poland near Szczytno-Szymany International Airport.[6]

Soviet Union and Post-Soviet states

Until its collapse, the Soviet Union was the primary target of the CIA, just as the US was the "main enemy" to the Soviet KGB and GRU. Hostility was developing as the Second World War ended.[citation needed]

Due to the breakup of the Soviet bloc and individual countries thereof, such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, it can be challenging to track CIA analysis from, say, Yugoslavia to Bosnia. There is a collection, by the National Intelligence Council, the estimative group now under the DNI, of a number of analytic reports on Yugoslavia, including at least one by a CIA critic:


  1. ^ Puddington, Arch (2003), Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, The University Press of Kentucky, 2003 
  2. ^ Kamm, Henry (6 May 1990), "EVOLUTION IN EUROPE; 'Free' Europe Embraces That Radio and Its Mate", New York Times, 
  3. ^ "About RFE/RL" (– Scholar search), Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty (Radio Free Europe), [dead link]
  4. ^ Invictus, Sol (November 13, 2007), Stay-Behind Army, 
  5. ^ Michael Warner, "Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50", Studies in Intelligence,, retrieved 2007-04-15 
  6. ^ "Inside a 9/11 Mastermind’s Interrogation", by Scott Shane, June 22, 2008, New York Times

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