Soviet Disinformation and Latvian Diaspora after World War II | pp. 143-147 | PDF

Viesturs Zanders
University of Latvia 

Abstract. The topicality of the study is determined by the fact that the currently widespread Russian disinformation policy is rooted in the experience amassed during the Soviet period, including the attempts to influence the Latvian diaspora living outside Latvia. Until now, research has highlighted the public political activities of diaspora organizations, neglecting the publications they produced. However, the documents available in the memory institutions of Latvia permit the researchers to reveal in sufficient detail the process of preparation and dissemination of these publications, as well as the frequently contradictory assessment of these publications. The aim of the research is, by using a range of unpublished documents and press publications of Latvians in exile community, which have not previously been included in the scientific circulation, to ascertain the experience of the Latvian exile society in the context of spreading true information about the history of Latvia and the situation in occupied Latvia, as well as evaluating the risks that could be caused by the uncritical use of Soviet publications sent to Latvians in the diaspora. The Latvian National Foundation (LNF, founded in Stockholm in 1947) can be considered the most consistent producer of such publications over a longer period of time. The materials released by LNF include publications that use sources of information available in the free world, as well as texts and images received from Latvia, which are published under cover names. A fair part of LNF’s publications was released in foreign languages (English, Swedish, German, etc.), as their target audience was the policy makers of Western countries. Some of the publications of LNF predominantly display the characteristics of representative gifts, but in general they form a significant part of Latvian publishing, – a contribution to maintaining the idea of the continuity of Latvian statehood. Relatively intensive sending of printed materials of occupied Latvia to Latvians in exile, starting from the second half of the 1950s, raises discussions about the value and place of these publications on the bookshelves of Latvians in exile. The findings of the research yield new insights into the role of certain organizations (in this case, the Latvian National Foundation) in Latvian book publishing in exile and the experience of the diaspora in dealing with Soviet disinformation.

Keywords: Latvian National Foundation, publications of Soviet Latvia, Per Olov Enquist, publications regarding the history of Latvia, Latvian society in exile, Uldis Ģērmanis

In: Media and Society, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Mediji un sabiedrība, 2022. Rakstu krājums. Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 173 p.