Staunton, October 12 – On October 11, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate said that Russian special services are planning provocations against that denomination on October 14th, a reminder if one is need that Vladimir Putin is following the Soviet provocation model first developed by Cheka founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
On its website, the Kyiv church said that “Under the disguise of Ukrainian nationalists and Kyivan Patriarchate supporters, provocateurs are planning attacks on the Kyivan Pecherska Lavra and churches of the Moscow Patriarchate. We are receiving information from many regions in Ukraine concerning the spread of flyers pretending to be from Ukrainian patriots and members of the Kyivan Patriarchate. These flyers call for physical attacks on the spiritual leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate and the takeover of their churches on October 14. To the best of our knowledge, the higher officials of the Moscow Patriarchate plan to be abroad at that time.”
Since 1917, Soviet and now Russian intelligence officials have specialized in provocations, posing as supporters of the most anti-Soviet and anti-Russian groups and thus recruiting and ultimately discrediting the latter by prompting them to make statements or take actions that undermine their standing with their traditional supporters.
Russian intelligence services have been using this strategy for some time in Ukraine, sending in people who pose as the most anti-Kremlin activists imaginable, encouraging them to issue statements or take actions that discredit Ukraine, and then sitting back as other Ukrainians and more important media in other countries blame Ukrainians for what the Russians are doing.
This strategy has the additional virtue, from Moscow’s point of view, in that when it fails and when the provocateurs are exposed as tools of the Kremlin, that works to Russia’s advantage as well: it discredits those who went along with these actions, and it disorders those who are genuinely opposed to Russia’s plans.
But if such provocations are still successful, they are nothing new. The classical model for such intelligence actions is the Trust, a Cheka-organized group inside Soviet Russia that presented itself to leaders of the anti-Bolshevik White Movement in emigration as the nucleus of an anti-Bolshevik force within Russia.
That group attracted many in the White Movement to its side, allowed Moscow to penetrate and disorder the Russian emigration, and finally, when the Trust was exposed as a Soviet operation in 1927, wrecked the reputations of all involved in the West by suggesting that they were involved in terrorism.
For a fuller survey of what the Trust involved and the consequences it had, see here.