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Voice of America Russian Branch Chief Alexander Barmine Was An Ex-Soviet General and Ex-Spy Who Testified Before Senator McCarthy

Praised By Sen. McCarthy; Refused to Support His Unfounded Charges
Senator Joseph McCarthy. Public domain photo.

Barmine was a cooperating witness before Senator McCarthy’s subcommittee but was reluctant to agree with the senators when he felt that they tried to read more into what he was saying. He corrected them in a friendly but firm manner. He repeatedly pointed out that some of the information he received from other sources was limited and could not be independently confirmed. He was highly praised by Senator McCarthy and Senator Karl E. Mundt (Republican – South Dakota) for his knowledge of Soviet communism and propaganda, even when he did not offer the support McCarthy may have expected from him. He did not join in the criticism of some Voice of America officials, who he thought might have been unfairly treated by the subcommittee. Instead, he described them as strongly supporting his work in the Russian Branch, thus indirectly countering some of McCarhty’s exaggerated or false assertions.

Barmine may have disappointed McCarthy when he refused to say anything negative about Edwin M. J. Kretzmann, policy advisor at the Voice America, and Roger Lyons, the director of religious programs, both targets of harsh criticism from the Senator. He defended Roger Lyons, whom McCarthy badgered with questions about whether or not he was an atheist. Lyons, who was not a member of any church, told McCarthy that he believed in God and would not have accepted the position of Director of Religious programming if he had not believed in God. Barmine said in response to questions from Senator Mundt that he had never had any difficulties or disagreements with Roger Lyons and worked with him in perfect cooperation. At the same time, Barmine stressed the importance of religious programs, which he had initiated. He also pointed out that the Russian Branch does not broadcast American jazz or other music because it would be a waste of time when listening to the Voice of America in the Soviet Union can result in imprisonment or a death sentence.

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Ted Lipien is the online Cold War Radio Museum's principal volunteer editor. He is an independent journalist, writer, and media freedom advocate. He was Voice of America’s Polish Service chief during Poland’s struggle for democracy and VOA’s acting associate director. He also served briefly in 2020-2021 as RFE/RL president. His book “Wojtyła’s Women” was published in 2008 by O-Books, UK. E-mail him at:

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