It’s ironic that this story is coming from the New York Times, which has made a special effort in recent years to rehabilitate the USSR. But there’s nothing really new here. Soviet officials saw lefties like Bernie Sanders as useful idiots. And were happy to exploit them.
And there’s no reason to think that the information that had been gathered on Bernie Sanders then isn’t still being kept around, and that the refurbished spy agencies of today don’t continue to see him as a useful prospect. That’s certainly what the DNC interference in 2016 would suggest. It dovetails with the Russian efforts to help Corbyn win in the UK. There’s a lot of overlap between Team Sanders and Team Corbyn. And cultivating socialists was a longstanding policy. Especially ones that come begging at your door.
While Sanders was building his sister city relationship with Yaroslavl, the other side saw him and other Burlington lefties as tools.
“One of the most useful channels, in practice, for actively carrying out information-propaganda efforts has proved to be sister-city contact,” a Soviet Foreign Ministry document provided to Yaroslavl officials said.
The documents, available at the Yaroslavskaya Region State Archive in Yaroslavl, are included in a file titled “documents about the development of friendly relations of the city of Yaroslavl with the city of Burlington in 1988.”
Throughout their negotiations with Burlington City Hall, Yaroslavl officials were coordinating their messaging with Soviet officials in Moscow.
In a letter to Moscow seeking approval for travel to the United States, Yaroslavl officials pledged that they would talk about the “peace-loving foreign policy” of the Soviet Union and the changes being implemented by Mr. Gorbachev. They attached a seven-point “plan for information-propaganda work” on their visit to Burlington, with specific talking points for each of the delegation’s three members.
The plan is followed by a nine-page guide issued by the Soviet Foreign Ministry on how to communicate Mr. Gorbachev’s policies to international audiences. It describes antiwar movements, sister-city contacts and foreign cultural figures as particularly important targets for Soviet propaganda.
And mission accomplished.
He offered glowing reviews in public and ratcheted up his lobbying effort in private.
“People there seemed reasonably happy and content,” Mr. Sanders told reporters in Burlington about Yaroslavl, a city of about 600,000. “I didn’t notice much deprivation.”
And check out their literacy programs and the chandeliers in the gulags.