HC Deb 03 March 1921 vol 138 cc2043-4W

asked the Home Secretary whether it was with his cognisance and sanction that the special branch collaborated last autumn with certain Russians in the preparation of imitations of a Moscow newspaper for use as propaganda in Russia against the Russian Soviet Government; if not, who is responsible for the employment of public servants and the expenditure of public money on this work; and what measures he proposes to take to prevent the continuation of this and similar activities by officials under his control?


The matter is one of which I had no knowledge until a day or two ago. I find on inquiry that the facts are these. In Russia no newspapers are allowed except the official organs of the Soviet Government, which give a wholly false and misleading account of affairs and opinion in this and other foreign countries. Some Russians in this country were anxious to supply their fellow countrymen with a true statement of the facts, and the only way they could do this was by printing in this country and circulating in Russia an imitation of the official "Pravda," the only paper allowed by the Soviet Government to circulate to the public. They communicated in this matter with the Director of Intelligence, and he assisted them to the extent of arranging for the removal of the English printer's name from the newssheets and for their being forwarded to an address in one of the countries bordering on Russia. This was all that he did. I think his action was indiscreet, and had he referred to me I would not have sanctioned it; but it should be clearly understood that the paper was not propagandist except in so far as a statement of the true facts is propaganda, that there was no collaboration by the police in its production, and that no public money was expended.

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