The Soviet Union reportedly viewed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a person that they could exploit to promote their propaganda because of his political views and his positive views of the communist nation.
The New York Times reported on Thursday night that newly discovered documents from Russia showed that Soviet officials sought to “exploit Mr. Sanders’ antiwar agenda for their own propaganda purposes.”
The Times noted that the Russian communists sought to exploit Sanders while he was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, after he wrote that he wanted the U.S. and the U.S.S.R to “live together as friends.”
“They also show how the Kremlin viewed these sister city relationships as vehicles to sway American public opinion about the Soviet Union,” the Times reported. “Nothing in the documents suggests that Mr. Sanders was the only local American official targeted for propaganda, or even that he was particularly receptive to it, though they do describe him as a socialist. But the documents do show the Soviets’ intensive preparation to use Mr. Sanders’ interest in their country to their advantage.”
A Soviet Foreign Ministry document discovered by the Times stated: “One of the most useful channels, in practice, for actively carrying out information-propaganda efforts has proved to be sister-city contact.”
The Times noted that Sanders aggressively sought out the sister-city program with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sanders even led a Burlington delegation to Yaroslavl to try to establish the basis for the sister-city relationship.
“But the trip wasn’t enough to cinch the sister-city relationship,” the Times added. “Mr. Sanders still had to convince Soviet officials in Moscow to grant their approval and allow Yaroslavl representatives to travel to Burlington. He offered glowing reviews in public and ratcheted up his lobbying effort in private.”
Sanders, still aggressively pursuing the program, wrote a glowing review about the communist nation, saying, “People there seemed reasonably happy and content. I didn’t notice much deprivation.”
Soviet officials coordinated all their responses to Sanders with Soviet officials in Moscow.
The Times reported that the Soviets created a seven-point “plan for information-propaganda work” for their trip to Burlington.
The document said, “When carrying out propaganda measures abroad, the forms and methods of the information-propaganda work and its concrete contents must be approved by the Soviet Embassy and take into account the Soviet Union’s relationship with the given country.”
Last Month, The Washington Post reported that the Russians were reportedly engaged in trying to boost Sanders’ campaign.
Top officials “have repeatedly warned that Russia has ongoing plans to interfere in U.S. elections and foster divisions among Americans, part of a strategic goal to undermine U.S. standing in the world,” The Post reported. “Some analysts believe that the Kremlin’s goal is to cause the maximum disruption within the United States, and it throws the support of its hackers and trolls behind candidates based on that goal, not any particular affinity for the persons running.”
The Post highlighted Sanders’ connections to Russia early last month:
One issue involves Sanders’s stance toward the former Soviet Union, a record that could undercut Democrats’ ability to criticize Trump for being too close to Russia today.
The documents from the Sanders archives include a letter from Soviet Embassy First Secretary Vadim Kuznetsov in March 1983, congratulating Sanders on his reelection as mayor and thanking Sanders for receiving him in Sanders’s office. Kuznetsov had been in Burlington to attend a conference on nuclear disarmament at the University of Vermont a few days earlier. Neither Sanders nor conference organizers appear to have read a 1976 Time magazine article that identified Kuznetsov as a member of a “Soviet intelligence squad” posing as diplomats to infiltrate U.S. politics.
In 1988, Sanders traveled to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and forged a “sister city” cooperation program there. Many believe he gave a rosy depiction of conditions there just a few years before the communist system collapsed.