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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1951

NETWORKS ACTING FOR THE RUSSIANS

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    The locations of Russian centers and agents conducting popular activities and their strategies for propaganda. The iems the Russian Commission is tracking are also broached, including military munition in Beirut and the Syrian Republic.
    "Networks Acting for the Russians," 1951, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 10, File 72C/10, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119896
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72C/10

Networks acting for the Russians

The Russians have special centers that are still conducting popular activities.  In those [centers], they have their agents who occupy these locations, among them:

1- In the direction of the British Commission, at the downhill, to the right toward the Daouqa Station, there is a tight alley called, Zawiet Dabbous.  Halfway through, there is a five-story building owned by Khaled Hassouneh.

Although these homes have two entrances, those who visit enter on one side and exit on another away from the building.  Khaled Bekdash and his friends come to this house often.  This lady works for a numbers of commercial businesses as an accountant.

2- At the end of Rawi Abu Jubail Street, at about six meters from the Bab Idris Tram Station, there is a grocery store owned by “Kroule,” who is a Russian Jew.

The owner of this grocery store works for the Russian intelligence as a point of contact for the informants.  One Petrenco visits him daily at around 1:00 to 1:30 in the afternoon.

3- On Justinian Street, near the back entrance of “Al-Dha’I” School, there is a shop called, “Madame Phillip’s,” where Mr. Phillipeshenko, the former painter and his wife live.  This shop is a center for distributing fliers and papers in Russian, distributed to the Russians who support the Soviets, as well as receiving news for them that is sent to the Russian Commission by their daughter, Olga, wife of Michel Limanski, who is a former officer in the Soviet Army.

Members of the Phillipesheko family are the daughter and a son, Vassili, who are powerful elements working for the Russian intelligence.

4- At a distance of 250 meters north of the river side at [illegible], lives the two brothers, Jerojian, in a two-story home.  Mr. Armanuk Serkissian is using this house as a base to meet with his Armenian communist agents.  He is relying on Jerojian to distribute intelligence and relay instructions to the Armenians and to print fliers in Armenian and distribute them.

5- Some individuals from the Russian Commission visit all the Russians at the Br run by Ivan Nemtsov in the Bab Idris District on Al-Ghandur Street.  Although the Commission is not completely trusting of this Ivan, as they suspect that he is a double agent for the General Security and that he is providing information to the agents of England and the United States; nevertheless they are using his to transfer information that they want to deliver to the General Security, the British and the Americans, in order to mislead them with false news.

6- There is on Lebni Street a Transportation company called, Levant Express, run by the Russian, Nicola Totorin.  The Russian Commission uses this company to transport in Iraqi, Iranian and Russian territory and to slip through goods intended to them.

The Russian Commission does not rely completely on this Nicola Totorin, who is suspected of ties to the British and the Americans.  They do rely on a Russian Armenian by the name of, Artin Baghdasarov who runs things and he is back and forth between the Commission and this company.

This Artin Baghdasarov lives in a building above the “Al-haidi” store near San George, is the most powerful figure at the Russian Commission ever since its establishment.

7- In the Mar Ilias [illegible] District, near the building where the French Forces used to be, lives Mr. Nicola Baratovski, who is an engineer for the Survey Service.

1. He has been in charge of it for three years.  He conducts contacts between the Commission and the Orthodox [illegible].

This Nicola Baratovski has a wife who is in contact with Archbishop Alias Karam.

They are also romantically involved.  She is an active element in service of the Russians through Archbishop Karam.

8- After the appointment of the Wasfi Al-Benneh, a lawyer from Homs and is Syrian.  He is a member of the Syrian Communist Party, at the office of the Press Attaché of the Russian Commission, he became a main contact between the Commission and the Ansar Al-Salam communist group, and other groups working under different names in service of communist Russians in Syria and Lebanon.

 9- Al-Najah press on Nahar [illegible] Street, near the Brigades home formerly occupied by French Admirals, is the press the Russian bought under the title, Sawt Al-Sha’b.  And prior to the dissolution of the Communist Party, the lawyer, Ilias Shamin was charged with [illegible] to sell it and it is now used by the Russians to print non-communist fliers and small books that that they are now publishing.

Elements working for the Russian communist propaganda are getting ready to spread major propaganda in student circles at the occasion of students from neighboring Arab countries coming to enter educational institutions [illegible] these institutions opening and the plan for this propaganda.

1- Increase propaganda at the American University as Communists have had strong propagandists at the university since last year.

2- Publish a series of books and publications for the Soviet policy or democratic policy as they call it and distribute these to university and some institute students.

3- Increase propaganda by the “Lebanese Student Association,” which is run by the communists.

A Description of this Propaganda

First- Broadcasting and distributing the call of the International Democratic Student Conference held in Prague this month.

Second- Issuing a statement under the title, “On the tri-lateral declaration and the war in Korea, to incite students in Syria and Lebanon and other Arab countries to struggle against imperialist schemes that aim to bring war to the Arab countries in favor of war merchants. Unifying efforts to fight the tri-lateral declaration and the Korean war.

The communist “Association for the Protection of Motherhood and Children” in [illegible] is establishing groups in popular committees to strongly attack rationing and the high price of food, and especially clothing that become essential for the poor in winter.  They are demanding an end to monopolies and to resist against them.

________

It’s believed in communist circles that the Foreign Minister, Phillip Bek Takla, had signed business deals in Brazil while there with his uncle, George Ma’loof, by which he imported 15 thousand tons of coffee in exchange for an advance for the whole amount in oil, as a result he had monopoly on coffee resulting in a price increase, as well as an increase in the price of oil.

These circles are also saying that Takla had a deal with Sheik Butrus [illegible] and some of President’s family members in order to guarantee this monopoly which brought them endless profits.

Russian groups are expressing special interest in the exemption offered to Mr. Lazar Lillich in his country last week.

This interest is due to its assumption that he was returning to his country based on an agreement from the government to pardon Yugoslav refugees in Syria and Lebanon, which display Russian interest in attracting the Croats to them against Marshal Tito’s government.  The group, Club Federale, who are operating under the leadership of [illegible] against the Soviets.  Although they are against the Russians, at the same time, they are not against the policies of the Yugoslav government, thinking that it is still a communist government that opposes them despite this position against the Russians.

In August 1950, a Yugoslav by the name of Simomovich, who is 21 years-old, was arrested at the border.  He declared that he escaped his country on board a ship to Haifa, where he was arrested.  He was sentenced to prison and was release on Sep. 6th, 1950.  He was received by Nicola Kenzevich and stayed with Mahmood Capitanovich.  Mr. Peter Colby, an American, who lives with his wife in Al-Shiah, later came to Mahmood’s house on Sep. 10th, 1950 and took with him to live.

Mahmood said that this Colby is American intelligence and he’s in contact with a Russian engineer called, Ivanov.  They both work in this field.

Sergei Shinzivikov, who is a white Russian youth, age 21, lives in Latakia, had obtained a Syrian ID since he was born in this region. During his Jesuit studies in 1949, he had joined the Association of Soviet Citizens representing the Latakia region.  He now works for Russian intelligence at the Commission in Beirut.

The Russian Commission is keeping an eye on the following information:

1- Military munition arrived in Beirut last week on board an American ship.  These came under the assumption that they are from multiple sources in West Germany to Syria.  These include 35 tanks.

2-They are watching the outcome of the new event in Syrian after it declared the republic, whether the government is satisfied with the army with the new event and whether there are those who bear ill toward this era.

3- Whether there had been a diplomatic effort from the three countries to manipulate Syrian policy, especially making the constituent council into a council of representatives.

4-What the opposition parties position toward the Syrian government after announcing the unified statement and whether there is an orchestrated plan to change these condition and which one of the three countries is the one assisting the opposition parties.

5- The position of supporters of the Pan-Syria Project, the Fertile Crescent and the [illegible] with Iraq.

Strict secret instructions were issued by the Russian Commission and the agencies that support it from countries as part of the Comminform in Arab countries and Iran ordering them of the following:

1- That members of the commissions and consulates not go to barbershops but once a month and to only go to ones that are approved by the Commission Minister.

2- That their wives not go to barbers’ homes at all.

3- That they obtain the Minister’s approval to go to recreational spots in the mountains or to nightclubs.

4- It’s absolutely forbidden for members of these commissions and consulates to befriend people from outside their offices in the countries where they work, likewise any diplomats from countries outside the Comminform.

5- That local employees record all their contacts with the outside and inform they inform their superiors of any attempt to lure them into exposing their activities.  Also, that they never host any employees of political agencies and consulates of non-Comminform countries at their homes.

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