Yuri Bezmenov

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Person.png Yuri Bezmenov  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Spook, defector)
Yuri Bezmenov.jpg
Died5 January 1993 (Age 53)
Cause of death
Heart attack?
Interest ofG. Edward Griffin
KGB defector

Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov (alias: 'Tomas David Schuman'[1]) was a Soviet journalist for RIA Novosti and a former PGU KGB informant who defected to Canada.

After being assigned to a station in India, Bezmenov eventually grew to love the people and the culture of India. At the same time, he began to resent the KGB-sanctioned repression of intellectuals who dissented from Moscow's policies[2] and he decided to defect to the West.[2] Bezmenov is best remembered for his anti-communist lectures and books published in the 1980s.

Early life and student years (1939–1963)

Bezmenov was born in 1939 in Mytishchi, near Moscow, to Russian parents. His father was a high ranking Soviet Army officer, later put in charge of inspecting Soviet troops in foreign countries, such as Mongolia and Cuba.[2] Bezmenov's father died in the 1970s. When Bezmenov was seventeen, he entered the Institute of Oriental Languages, a part of the Moscow State University which was under the direct control of the KGB and the Communist Party Central Committee. In addition to languages, he studied history, literature, and music, and became an expert on Indian culture. During his second year, Bezmenov sought to look like a person from India; his teachers encouraged this because graduates of the school were employed as diplomats, foreign journalists, or spies.[2]

As a Soviet student, he was required to take compulsory military training in which he was taught how to play "strategic war games" using the maps of foreign countries, as well as how to interrogate prisoners of war.[2]

Life in India, propaganda work, and disillusionment (1963–1970)

After graduating in 1963, Bezmenov spent two years in India working as a translator and public relations officer with the Soviet economical aid group Soviet Refineries Constructions, which built refinery complexes.

In 1965, Bezmenov was recalled to Moscow and began to work for RIA Novosti as an apprentice for their classified department of "Political Publications" (GRPP). He discovered that about three quarters of Novosti's staffers were actually KGB officers, with the remainder being "co-optees" or KGB freelance writers and informers like himself.[3] However, Bezmenov did not do real freelance writing. Instead, Bezmenov edited and planted propaganda materials in foreign media and accompanied delegations of Novosti's guests from foreign countries on tours of the Soviet Union or to international conferences held in the Soviet Union.

After several months, Bezmenov claimed he was forced to act as an informer[2] while maintaining his position as a Novosti journalist. He used his journalistic duties to help gather information and to spread disinformation to foreign countries for the purposes of Soviet propaganda and subversion.[2]

Rapid promotion followed, and Bezmenov was once again assigned to Bila in 1969, this time as a Soviet press-officer and a public relations agent for the KGB. He continued Novosti's propaganda efforts in New Delhi, working out of the Soviet embassy. Bezmenov was directed to slowly establish the Soviet sphere of influence in India. In the same year, a secret directive of the Central Committee opened a new secret department in all embassies of the Soviet Union around the world, titled the "Research and Counter-Propaganda Group". Bezmenov became a deputy chief of that department, which gathered intelligence from sources like Indian informers and agents, on influential or politically significant citizens of India.

Bezmenov stated that he was instructed not to waste time with idealistic leftists, as these would become disillusioned, bitter, and adversarial when they realized the true nature of Soviet communism.[4]

During that period, increasingly seeing the Soviet system as insidious and ruthless, Bezmenov began careful planning to defect to the West.[4][5][6]

Defection to the West and life in Canada (1970–1983)

According to a statement provided to the Delhi Police by the so-called Russian Information Centre, on February 8, 1970, Bezmenov was set to see a screening of the American film The Incident (1967 film)|The Incident with two of his colleagues. However, it was reported by them at the time that he had not bought his ticket, and told them he would join them in a moment and try to purchase one from a scalper outside the theater.[7] Bezmenov did not return to the theater.[8] Instead, Bezmenov put on hippie clothes, complete with a beard and wig, before joining a tour group. By these means, he escaped to Athens, Greece. His defection was reported in the United States, with Soviet sources stating he was "not important" and did "clerical work", and American intelligence openly stating they believed him to be an agent of the KGB. At the time, his whereabouts were depicted in American media as unknown.[9] After contacting the American embassy and undergoing extensive interviews with United States intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was able to help Bezmenov seek asylum in Canada, granted by the administration of Pierre Trudeau.[2][10] The CIA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) advised him to adopt a new name and identity for reasons of safety.[6] In order to save face with the embarrassment of a defection within the KGB ranks, the Delhi residency officially reported he had been abducted, and his son, his closest surviving relative, was given financial compensation.[11]

After studying political science at the University of Toronto for two years, and working on an Ontario farm for three years, in 1973, Bezmenov was hired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Montreal, broadcasting to the Soviet Union as part of the CBC's International Service.[6] This is when he met his wife, Tess. In 1976, Bezmenov left the CBC and began free-lance journalism. He became a consultant for Almanac Panorama of the World Information Network.[5] Bezmenov claimed that the KGB successfully used the Soviet Ambassador to Canada to persuade Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to apply pressure to have him removed from that position.[2] He claimed that he received veiled death threats from the KGB.

Pro-American literature and lectures (Los Angeles, 1981–1986)

"As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell him nothing, even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures. ...he will refuse to believe it... That's the tragedy of the situation of demoralization." / 1983

He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s.[6] In 1983, at a lecture in Los Angeles, Bezmenov expressed the opinion that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Soviet Union had shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in order to kill Larry McDonald, an anti-communist Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives. Around the same time, Bezmenov had a child in the West, a daughter named Tanya. He later had a son named Johnathan.[12]

In 1984, he gave an interview to G. Edward Griffin, titled 'Soviet Subversion of the Free World Press'. In the interview, Bezmenov explained the methods used by the KGB for the gradual subversion of the political system of the United States.[2]

The main emphasis of the KGB is not in the area of intelligence at all. Only about 15% of time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage and such. The other 85% is a slow process which we call either ideological subversion or active measures ... or psychological warfare.[2][13]

Under the pen-name, Tomas D. Schuman, Bezmenov authored the book Love Letter to America.[4] The author's biography of the book likens Bezmenov to Winston Smith, from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Other books by Bezmenov are: No Novosti Is Good News,[3] World Thought Police,[5] Black Is Beautiful, Communism Is Not.[14]

In 1984, the Washington Post reported Bezmenov publicly denounced admission of a Soviet cruise ship to Los Angeles during the 1984 Summer Olympics, stating that they were placed there under the guise of entertainment, but maintained electronic surveillance equipment aboard to monitor radio and telephone communications.[10] In another interview, Bezmenov would describe a series of methods he posited that the KGB had used during the Games, including espionage by Soviet foreign journalists, as well as the use of other personnel to "provide better control against possible athletic defections."[15]

Later years and death (1986–1993)

In 1989, he and his wife divorced. That same year he moved to Windsor (Ontario), while she stayed in Montreal. Two years later, he began teaching international relations at the University of Windsor. In late December 1992, Bezmenov visited Tess and their children in Montreal for Christmas. Two weeks later, Bezmenov's death was reported on January 6, 1993. According to the Windsor Star, he died of a "massive heart attack", on Tuesday, January 5, 1993.[6]


Since his death, Bezmenov's "Soviet subversion model" has been studied and interpreted by faculty and staff at the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) to analyze historical events, including the decade-long Russian campaign that preceded the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.[16] His work has also been cited by senior director of UPenn's Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Dr. Michael Carpenter.[17][18] His lectures have also been used by Yale senior lecturer Asha Rangappa, to illustrate the concept of active measures in Russia's historical disinformation campaigns in the United States.[19]

On August 19, 2020, Bezmenov's 1984 interview discussing active measures was used in the teaser for '[Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, in addition to its use in the main introduction on August 26. This contributed to a renewed interest in both Bezmenov's work and lectures.[20][21][22]

Further reading

  • Soviet Ideological Subversion of America in Four Stages : Elizabeth Clare Prophet interviews Tomas Schuman, Novosti Press, Soviet defector

External links


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Who Was Yuri BezmenovArticle19 November 2020Mark HackardArticle about Yuri Bezmenov by Mark Hackard

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  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20160304222006/http://projects.windsorpubliclibrary.com/digi/obits/results.php?lname=Schuman&fname=Tomas
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFfrWKHB1Gc Soviet Subversion of the Free-World Press: A Conversation with Yuri Bezmenov, Westlake Village, CA, http://uselessdissident.blogspot.com/2008/11/interview-with-yuri-bezmenov.html
  3. a b No "Novosti" is Good News, Yuri Bezmenov, 1985, Almanac, ISBN 978-0-935090-17-8, Los Angeles, OCLC 45013143
  4. a b c Love Letter to America, Tomas Schuman, 1984, NATA, Los Angeles, OCLC 19468210, ISBN 978-0-935090-13-0, https://archive.org/details/BezmenovLoveLetterToAmerica
  5. a b c World Thought Police, Yuri Bezmenov, NATA, 1986, ISBN 978-0-935090-14-7, Los Angeles, OCLC 23919332, https://web.archive.org/web/20101101152925/http://www.scribd.com/doc/26265794/World-Thought-Police-Yuri-Bezmenov
  6. a b c d e https://web.archive.org/web/20200706045517/https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53029092/yuri/
  7. https://web.archive.org/web/20200713220824/https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=53027047
  8. https://web.archive.org/web/20200824155613/https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=CIllAAAAIBAJ&sjid=v54NAAAAIBAJ&pg=1460%2C609932
  9. https://web.archive.org/web/20200713164429/https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/29629253/
  10. a b https://web.archive.org/web/20170124124649/https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP90-00806R000200860022-1.pdf
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20200824155607/https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Sword_and_the_Shield/wVndU5P4V-8C?hl=en&gbpv=1&d=&pg=PT491 - Most other cases of alleged CIA special actions against KGB officers were in reality cases of actual or attempted defection...Such was the case, for example, in the disappearance of Bezmenov. Anxious to save face, the Delhi residency had reported that he had been abducted, and his son (the closest surviving relative) was given financial compensation
  12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2jmX6aCSUo - Tomas Schuman (Yuri Bezmenov) L.A. 1983
  13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gnpCqsXE8g Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society, 1983
  14. Black is Beautiful, Communism is Not, 1985, ISBN 978-0-935090-18-5}}
  15. https://web.archive.org/web/20170123155508/https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP90-00806R000200860037-5.pdf
  16. https://web.archive.org/web/20200824155607/https://www.google.com/books/edition/Publications_Combined_Russia_s_Regular_A/qN1LDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=bezmenov&pg=RA1-PA225 - G. Case Study: The Russo-Georgian War of 2008|quote=When the 2008 conflict and its preceding events are analyzed through the lens of Bezmenov's Soviet subversion model and organized by the elements of national power, it becomes apparent that the conflict itself was simply the culmination point of a protracted PW [psychological warfare] campaign against Western expansion...The demoralization phase of Bezmenov's model extends back to 1992, when war broke out in Georgia during the aftermath of Soviet collapse. - page 165, Publications Combined: Russia's Regular And Special Forces In The Regional And Global War On Terror
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20200713160652/https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/109537/witnesses/HHRG-116-FA14-Wstate-CarpenterM-20190521.pdf
  18. https://web.archive.org/web/20200713191216/https://global.upenn.edu/penn-biden-center/person/michael-carpenter
  19. https://web.archive.org/web/20200702092243/https://summer.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Syllabi/2019/GLBL%20S343E%20-%20Disinformation%20%26%20Democracy%20Syllabus.pdf
  20. https://web.archive.org/web/20200819203817/https://pawntakespawn.com/playthegamefindthetruth
  21. https://web.archive.org/web/20200820002423/https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/19/21376314/call-of-duty-black-ops-cold-war-treyarch-raven-activision
  22. https://www.pcgamesn.com/call-of-duty-black-ops-cold-war/multiplayer-reveal-date