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Atheist Moscow-Oriented Communists Courted Christians And Muslims During The Cold War

March 20, 2017


It is not widely known, but atheist Communists who during the Cold War were quite loyal to Moscow, made a lot of efforts to win over Christian churches and Muslims, especially if they were outside the former Soviet Union. It was between 1973 and 1987 that I covered many meetings and so-called "Assemblies" of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the European Nuclear Disarmament Movement (END) and the World Peace Council (WPC). I also paid several important visits to Russia, Eastern Europe, Central America, South America, Africa and China.

I made numerous contributions to current affairs programs on Dutch radio and TV. My articles appeared in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Britain, the United States and Canada. (EO Radio/TV, TV magazine "Visie," Reformatorisch Dagblad, Nederlands Dagblad, Freedom House in New York, Conflict Quarterly, University of New Brunswick, Canada, "Militaire Spectator", Ministry of Defense, The Hague, Strategic Review, Washington, Atlantisch Perpectief, the Hague, Gazet van Antwerpen, Belgium and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland.)

Freedom House in New York published my book "The World Council of Churches and Politics" back in 1989. This book describes in detail how pro-Moscow communists succeeded in manipulating the ecumenical debate on peace and disamament issues and on human rights between 1975 and 1986. And an academic reader on "The New Image-Makers: Soviet Propaganda and Disinformation Today" published my contribution on "Soviet Manipulation of Religious Circles, 1975-1986," also in 1989. This reader was edited by Ladislav Bittman. Bittman, who is also known as "Lawrence Martin," was a well-informed former communist intelligence officer from Czechoslovakia who defected to the West on September 3, 1968, shortly after the Russian invasion of his home country, that is.

The term "religious circles" was coined by the above mentioned World Peace Council (WPC), an organization that during the Cold War was linked to the propaganda apparatus of the atheist Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). In declassified reports Western intelligence services described the WPC as a Communist Party front organization. The communists of the former Soviet Union are usually referred to as "the Soviets." WPC President Romesh Chandra was a pro-Soviet communist from India. But the headquarters of the WPC were in Helsinki. I covered their "peace assemblies" in Prague and Copenhagen for Dutch Christian newspapers and also visited their headquarters.

Christian Peace Conference

The Moscow-oriented communists also availed themselves of the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), another important Communist front organization which sought to manipulate Christian churches and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva. I visited both the headquarters of the WCC at Geneva and the CPC headquarters at Prague and personally witnessed how CPC and Russian Orthodox representatives took decidedly pro-Soviet positions at numerous ecumenical meetings in Eastern and Western Europe as well as in Africa (Kenya), North and Latin America (1973-1987). The CPC was also very active in the Netherlands as well as in East and West Germany. Additionally, they were siding with the Palestinians.

The CPC was dominated by the Soviet-controlled Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) which became a member of the WCC in 1961. A supportive role was played by the former KGB, the Soviet intelligence and security service during the Cold War.

A confidential Dutch intelligence report, "The Hidden Factor in the Dutch Discussion on Nuclear Werapons" revealed in February 1981:

"From 3-12 October 1980, for instance, there was a ROC (=Russian Orthodox Church, V.) delegation here, which gave the purposes of its visit as ‘consultation with Dutch religious denominations', but which was really intent on establishing contacts with political parties and peace movements. All these meetings were arranged by the third secretary Political Affairs of the Soviet Embassy, I.A. KROTOV, who is suspected of having KGB affiliations.

Another striking fact is that the metropolitan of Minsk and White Russia, FILARET, had, since he became Exarch for Western Europe in December 1978, paid at least five visits to the Netherlands for reasons not known. What he came to the Netherlands to do could be deduced from the fact that in 1979 he was awarded two decorations for work for peace in the presence of high ranking Soviet authorities." This document has been partially reprinted in my latest book "Soviet Manipulation of Religious Circles, 1975-1986," an update of my previous contribution to the above mentioned reader edited by Ladislav Bittman.

Highly successful KGB agents

Through the CPC and the Russian Orthodox Church or ROC, the Soviets manipulated the debate in ecumenical circles and the peace movement. Soviet agents helped to draft policy statements on international affairs at annual WCC Central Committee meetings and at so-called "WCC Assemblies."

Two Soviet KGB agents in the WCC were later identified by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin. They were Aleksei Buyevsky ("agent Kuznetsov") and metropolitan Nikodim ("agent Adamant"). Nikodim became one of the WCC's six presidents at the Nairoby Assembly in December 1975. (I was there myself, by the way.)

Vasili Mitrokhin, who supervised the transfer of the First Chief Directorate's archive from the Lubyanka to the new KGB headquarters at Yesenovo, defected to the United Kingdom in 1992. This First Chief Directorate was responsible for the KGB's foreign operations and intelligence activities. Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, a historian from Cambridge University,published the book The Mitrokhin Archive in 1999. Mitrokhin and Andrew quote from a KGB report saying its agents had succeeded "in placing its agent KUZNETSOV in a high WCC post." This was at the WCC Central Committee meeting in Canterbury in 1969. "Agent KUZNETSOV was Aleksei Sergeyevich Buyevsky, lay secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate's foreign relations department headed by Nikodim. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he played an active role in the work of the WCC Central Committee, helping to draft policy statements on international affairs."

I identified Buyevsky as a possible KGB agent already in 1978 – in my book Christus of Ideologie? (Christ or Ideology?), a lengthy study on church-state relations in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Communist China published by "De Banier," Utrecht. I wrote on page 226: "If Buyevsky does not belong to the Russian secret service himself, then he is bound to be controlled by them, if you take into account his position, at least."

This was based on personal observations at WCC meetings, not on any other sources. It was a guess at the time and my guess turned out to be correct.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the World Peace Council continued to exist, although without financial help from Moscow. The relatively short Gorbachev era also ended in December 1991. The International Christian Peace Conference ceased to exist in 2001.


In the 1970s and 1980s the Soviets had a keen interest in the Muslim world, although there was no Islamic equivalent to the Christian Peace Conference or the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP, headquarters in Ulan Bator, Mongolia). The Soviets did support Palestinian terrorist organizations and initiated an international debate on "anti-Zionism." When Muslim extremists forced the pro-Western Shah of Iran to flee his country and took over in January 1979, the Soviets did not hesitate to court the new rulers. A setback, though, was the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 which was universally condemned by the Muslim world.

The Soviets continued, however, to manipulate anti-Semitic public opinion in the Middle East and Iran, often successfully. Their vocal criticism of Israel and Zionism was helpful in this respect. In October 1980, Syria and the Soviet Union signed a twenty-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) the Soviets reiterated that they were neutral, yet theysided with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a secular Muslim and a war criminal, providing him with arms. After that war Moscow's relations with Iran suddenly improved. Iran and Syria are now Russia's most important allies in the Muslim world.

Today's unholy alliance between former Russian communists and Islamists

Today, there is an "unholy alliance between Iran, Russia, and Jihadists." A newbook on their often common agenda and written by Jay Sekulov is quite alarming. Vladimir Putin, Russia's current president, is a former KGB-officer, and, consequenty, "Russia seeks to reestablish itself as a world power on par with the United States." "Iran and Russia share one goal in Syria – to keep the Assad regime in power." "Top ranking Al-Qaeda commanders still within Iran continue to conduct their day-to-day operations with little interference from Iran's government."

And Putin is now courting the Islamofascist rulers of Turkey. One of them Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pro-Erdogan demonstrators in Holland recently lashed out against the Jews, calling them "cancerous," the Dutch newspaper "Algemeen Dagblad" reported on March 13, 2017. Alliances are shifting rapidly in the Middle East – and this is quite common among Muslim nations. Israel is the only stable democracy in a region consumed by anti-Semitism and hatred.

Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. His latest book is "Soviet Manipulation of Religious Circles, 1975-1986 (with confidential documents).


Emerson Vermaat, Soviet Manipulation of Religious Circles, 1975-1986 (Soesterberg, the Netherlands: Aspekt Publishers, 2016), pp. 26, 27, 64, footnote 26, p. 69.

Appendices: Confidential and previously not published intelligence documents (Dutch BVD/AIVD, (West) German Security Service and East German Ministry of State Security.)

This updated study can be ordered via "Aspekt Publishers" in the Netherlands, or Foyles Bookshop in London:,emerson-vermaat-9789463380997

Emerson Vermaat, The World Council of Churches and Politics, 1975-1986 (New York: Freedom House, 1989).

Ladislav Bittman, The New Image-Makers: Soviet Propaganda Today (Londen/Oxford/New York: Pergamon Publishers, 1989).

Ladislav Bittman/Lawrence Martin Wikipedia (Portugal),

Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, The Mitrokhin Archive (London: Allen Lane, 1999), p. 636 (on Nikodim), p. 637 (on Buyevsky.)

J.A. Emerson Vermaat, Christus of Ideologie? (Utrecht: De Banier Publishers, 1977), p. 226. ("Indien Buyevsky zelf niet tot de geheime dienst behoort, dan staat hij toch onder directe controle van de Russische geheime dienst, alleen al uit hoofde van zijn functie.") See also: Emerson Vermaat, De Evangelische Omroep – Ontstaansgeschiedenis (Founding History of the Evangelical Broadcasting Corporation) (Soesterberg: Aspekt Publishers, 2007), pp. 36, 37, 126 ,footnotes 35 and 36.

Jay Sekulov. Unholy Alliance. The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World (New York: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, 2016), p. 156 ("Top-ranking Al-Qaeda commanders…"), p. 165 ("Russia seeks to reestablish itself as a world power on par with the United States."), p. 172 ("Iran and Russia share one goal in Syria…")

Algemeen Dagblad (Rotterdam), March 13, 2017, p. 5, Rellen: "Niet cool man, er hadden fucking doden kunnen vallen." "Kankerjoden!"

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