Oh dear. Some Crikey colleagues appear to be too young to remember the
Cold War, going by the comments in “Comments, corrections, clarifications and
c*ck-ups” regarding Soviet funding of Arena magazine.

We at Crikey make quite a noise about how people wanting to donate to
political parties can effectively launder their money through bodies such as
the Free Enterprise Foundation. We’re sceptical of spin doctors. Even today, a
Roger and Me style chase seeking comment on Kremlin funds would probably come to a very
sticky end.

We should acknowledge that while it’s hard to stand up accusations of
Soviet funding during the height of the cultural clash between East and West,
it’s also equally hard to rule them out. Indeed, it’s entirely logical to
presume that it could have happened.

Soviet funds were dispersed through agents of influence, not just by
Boris and Natasha arriving on the doorstep with a cheque. There were cut-outs. And more cut-outs.

We have plenty of documentation on how the system worked – straight from
the KGB archives themselves, courtesy of one of the archivists. Vasili
Mitrokhin
smuggled out massive quantities of material on Soviet operations around the
world – including in Australia – when he defected to West in the 90s. Why not read The Mitrokhin Archive, authored with Christopher Andrew,
and make up your own mind on this question.

PS. And in response to the smug moralising over Chile and the CIA that’s appeared, better 17 years of
military rule followed by moves to democracy than 46 years and counting of
bankrupt, oppressive communist dictatorship in Cuba IMHO.

Peter Fray

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