By Paul Goble
In the new issue of the Moscow journal Ogonyek, Russian historian Leonid Maksimenkov draws on documents from the Russian state archives to show that, despite official denials, the Kremlin has a long history of interfering in American presidential elections.
Maksimenko provides details from the Russian State Archive of Social-Political History about the Soviet involvement with and promotion of the candidacy of Henry Wallace in 1948. Much of what he says will be familiar to Western readers but perhaps less so to Russian ones – and has seldom if ever been discussed in such a popular form (kommersant.ru/doc/3514697).
The specific exchanges between Moscow and the Progressive Party candidate are of historical interest, but three characteristics of the Kremlin’s involvement then and later are worth mentioning in the light of more recent events. First, decisions about the development of such relations were taken at the highest levels.
Second, Moscow sought out those who would be likely to support many of its positions rather than trying to turn someone who was opposed into a supporter by gaining compromising information about him, although interest in such information or its creation was never entirely absent from Russian calculations.
And third, as Maksimenko notes, Stalin was very clear: Moscow must never “show all its cards” to those it hoped to promote and exploit or assume that gaining serious influence over any single individual abroad would be sufficient to achieve Moscow’s goals. More people had to be targeted, and the game was never going to be declared over.