19 May 1977* (Pb 56/68) Human rights

Politburo. Instructions to Soviet ambassadors on human rights issues (21 pp). [R 19 May 1977, Pb 56-68] Excerpt.


[page two]


To all Soviet ambassadors and representatives

Recently a wide and coordinated campaign has unfolded in the West concerning the phoney “violations of human rights” in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. Those behind this outcry, which has a frankly provocative and demagogic character, are, as often in the past, first and foremost the reactionary, anti-communist and anti-Soviet forces in the USA and certain West European States. It is to be noted that in this instance official circles in Washington have zealously joined in the campaign, including the highest political echelons of the new American administration.



[page three]


Soviet embassies and other diplomatic missions must work in a determined and systematic fashion to decisively counteract this hostile campaign, actively exposing its demagogic and defamatory nature, which is a dangerous political trend for the cause of peace, denoting the interference in the internal affairs of other States…. This work must be carried out as an offensive, in close coordination with the embassies of fraternal countries, considering, naturally, the distinctive conditions of the country where you are serving, the position of its government and the political outlook of a certain audience or individual.”

[There followed 20 pages of instructions, counter-arguments, specific measures and hidden threats. Those who represented the Soviet Union around the world were to – ]

Emphasise, above all, that such campaigns, naturally, are not capable of shaking to the slightest degree the stability of the socialist system, but can have a negative effect on the relaxation of tension [détente], obstructing the positive processes that have been taking place in international relations over the last few years….

Refute assertions that the campaign about “human rights” which is hostile to the socialist countries and, in particular, public statements on this subject by certain highly-placed official figures in the West, are not interference in the internal affairs of other States but a form of ideological struggle, that the socialist countries themselves supposedly recognise….

Emphasise that we indeed recognise the ideological struggle and the struggle between socio-political worldviews, and that this struggle does not cease in a period of international relaxation. Such a struggle, however, has nothing in common with the methods and tactics of ideological sabotage, and the creation of illegal organisations in other countries….

Bearing in mind that the propaganda campaign inspired by Washington arouses a negative reaction in the ruling circles of several Western countries stress should be laid in all conversations about human rights on exposing what happens within the USA itself. Arguments should be skilfully used to discredit the attempts of the United States to present itself as a model of democratic rights and the supreme world arbiter….

“All the active staff of our embassies and diplomatic missions and our correspondents should be prepared for discussions about human rights, so that they will convey the facts to as many people as possible who have an influence on State policy and the public mood in the country where you are stationed….

“You must work systematically to uncover the weak areas in the policy and practice of Western countries in the field of human rights, paying particular attention to the corresponding legislation and judicial and penal practices of those countries and pass to the Centre suggestions as to how we can strengthen our propaganda counter-attack against Western countries that try to exert political pressure on us using the pretext of “defending human rights”.




1. Notes by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [ ];
2. text written by hand is indicated in italic script;
3. when a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been inserted
in a previously typed document this is indicated by underlined italic script.

Translation, John Crowfoot