Follow me:
Listen on:

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

Condemned VOA’s First Chief News Editor Who Joined Communist Party and Received Stalin Peace Prize
Text of Howard Fast's Stalin Peace Prize acceptance speech delivered in NewYork by the former Voice of America chief news writer and editor on April 22, 1954 at the Hotel McAlpin in New York at a ceremony reportedly attended by about 1,000 guests.
Text of Howard Fast’s Stalin Peace Prize acceptance speech delivered in by the former Voice of America chief news writer and editor on April 22, 1954 at the Hotel McAlpin in New York at a ceremony reportedly attended by about 1,000 guests. In the Cold War Radio Museum collection.

However, Barmine told the subcommittee that a former WWII Voice of America news writer and editor Howard Fast, who subsequently joined the Communist Party, was described as “a traitor” in one or two VOA Russian Branch programs. Such condemnation was wrong, as there was never any proof that Fast had been a Soviet agent. This apparently was, however, Barmine’s view of those Americans who had joined the Communist Party, worked for the party’s newspaper, The Daily Worker, and supported the Soviet regime that had instigated the Korean War, in which American soldiers were dying. Fast was not disloyal to the United States, but like many early Voice of America officials and journalists, he was extremely naive about communism and the Soviet Union. While not a spy, he was an unwitting Soviet agent of influence who, while working at the Voice of America, helped to produce programming supporting and justifying establishing Moscow-controlled regimes in East-Central Europe, with the subsequent loss of freedom for millions of people. Unlike many other Communists who made a complete break with communism and became anti-communists, Fast, despite leaving the Communist Party in 1956, never denounced communism or some of the Soviet Bloc’s so-called “reformed communists,” whom he still supported. There were Soviet spies working at the Office of War Information and the Voice of America during World War II, but Fast was not one of them. He was, however, influenced by Soviet agents and by his friends among VOA journalists who later worked for communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

During World War II, VOA’s leaders and journalists, many of them ideologically driven, had put out what they knew or should have known were fake Soviet propaganda news. They also attacked or ignored smaller U.S. war allies who had run afoul of Stalin’s political aims and ambitions by resisting his attempts to turn them into Soviet satellites. To a large degree, the early VOA was run not by the White House or the State Department, but by a small group of managers and political activists who created their own propaganda mixed with Soviet disinformation.

Among OWI’s many activities designed to sway public opinion, both foreign and domestic, were propaganda films produced to defend and justify the illegal internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry. In violations of U.S. laws, the OWI also tried to censor political reporting by domestic U.S. media critical of the Soviet Union while at the same time feeding American journalists and broadcasters its own censored and misleading news and protecting Joseph Stalin from criticism.1


  1. Ted Lipien, “How U.S. Lied About Polish Refugee Children to Protect Stalin – Cold War Radio Museum,” Cold War Radio Museum (blog), December 9, 2018,
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

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 in a non-political and non-partisan role. His book “Wojtyła’s Women” was published in 2008 by O-Books, UK. E-mail him at:

Join the discussion

Further reading