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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

Private Life

Alexander Barmine’s first wife was Olga Fedorovna. She died in the Soviet Union shortly after giving birth to twin boys.

While he was assigned to the Soviet Embassy in Athens, Barmine met a young Greek architect, Màrie Pavlides, whom he later married while living as an exile in France. They immigrated together to the United States in January 1940. In 1948, Barmine married Edith Kermit Roosevelt, granddaughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, a recent Barnard College graduate. At the time of their marriage, he was 49, and Edith Roosevelt was 21. Four years later, she filed for divorce in California, claiming cruelty and nonsupport. The court granted no support, but she won custody of their young daughter.1 After the breakup of their marriage, Edith Roosevelt pursued her journalistic career and covered such topics as Soviet and other communist regime influence operations and spying in the United States. While their marriage did not last long, they had similar views about Soviet communism and Moscow’s influence within the U.S. government and media. In her “Between the Lines” column, quoted in the Congressional Record in 1968,  Edith Roosevelt wrote about a former Office of War Information Polish writer and contributor to wartime VOA programs, Mira Zandel Złotowska (later Michałowska), who, after the war, married a diplomat of the communist regime in Poland and supported it with soft propaganda in the West.2 Edith Kermit Roosevelt also tried to research the background of Mira Złotowska’s partner, a Voice of America editor Stefan Arski, who, after the war, became one of the chief anti-American propagandists in Poland. However, she did not know that Arski was employed by the Office of War Information and the Voice of America as Artur Salman, his real name, while Arski was his pen name.3 Barmine and Edith Kermit Roosevelt had one daughter, journalist Margot Roosevelt (Margot Hornblower). After divorcing Edith Kermit Roosevelt, Barmine married a broadcaster in the VOA Ukrainian Service in New York. They had three children. When he was no longer the Russian Service chief, one of his daughters from his last marriage worked as a VOA Russian broadcaster in Washington, DC.

An AP photo of Alexander Barmine and Judith Kermit Roosevelt, a granddaughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, on the day of their marriage, September 8, 1948. AP copyright not renewed. Public domain photo in the Cold War Radio Museum collection.

The following biographical note on Alexander Barmine was included in the Subcommittee of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations report, which examined overseas information programs of the United States, including Voice of America broadcasts. The subcommittee heard testimony from the VOA Russian Branch chief.

Name: Alexander G. Barmine. Position: Chief, Russian Branch.
Born: August 16, 1899, Mohileff, Russia. Naturalized United States citizen, July 15, 1943.
Education: Kiev, State Gymnasium (high school and junior college)-9 years; Kiev, St. Vladimir University, 1 year; Minsk, Infantry Officers' School, 8 months: Moscow, Frunze General Staff College, 3 years; Moscow, Oriental Languages Institute, 3 years.
Employment: 1919–35, from private to brigadier general, Russian Army (active duty and reserve); 1921, military attaché, consul general, Russian Legation, Bokhara; 1923-25, consul general, Russian Embassy, Persia; 1925-28, director general manager, International Book Corp., Moscow; 1929–30, director-general, Russian Trade Delegation, Paris; 1931-32, director-general, Russian Trade Delegation, Italy; 1932-33, first vice president, Machine Tool Import Corp., Moscow: 1934–35, president, Automo Export Corp., Moscow; 1936–37, chargé d'affaires, Russian Legation, Athens; 1937-39, with Air France Co., Paris; 1941-42, National Broadcasting Corp., New York; 1942–43, United States Army; 1943-44, Office of Strategic Services; 1944-46, Reader's Digest; 1948 (October), State Department, Voice of America.
Languages (Foreign): Russian, French, Italian, Persian, Ukranian, Polish.
Books and articles: Russia: Articles in Russian newspapers and magazines, 2 years correspondent, Tass News Agency. Europe: Book, Memoirs of a Soviet Diplomat; articles in French, Belgian, Dutch, Scandanavian Press. United States of America: Editorial advisory work for Harper & Bros., Life, and others; articles in New York Times, Harper's, Reader's'Digest, Saturday Evening Post, Catholic Digest, New Leader, Aviation; also in newspapers in United States of America and Canada through NANA Overseas Press Agency, INS, etc.; book, One Who Survived, published in 23 languages.


  1. The New York Times, Mrs. Barmine Files Suit: Theodore Roosevelt Kin Seeks Divorce in California, July 18, 1952, p. 10,
  2. As Mira Złotowska, or under her pen name Mira Michal, she published articles in Harper’s and a few other U.S. magazines. In a 1946 article in Harper’s magazine, Złotowska presented a regime militiaman in Poland as a staunch defender of the rule of law. “We are not a nation of criminals,” she quoted the communist militiaman telling a Polish peasant that even Nazi criminals deserved a fair trial. See Mira Złotowska, “I came back from Poland, Harper’s, November 1946, Also: Ted Lipien, “Mira Złotowska – Michałowska — Was She VOA’s Communist ‘Mata Hari’?,” Cold War Radio Museum (blog), December 10, 2019,—michalowska—-was-she-voas-communist-mata-hari/. At the time, Polish Communists with the help from the Soviet NKVD were already imposing a harsh dictatorial regime in Poland, falsely accusing former anti-Nazi fighters of being fascists, arresting and torturing their political opponents and condemning them to death with fake evidence.
  3. Her 1967 letter to the National Archives is included in Mira Złotowska’s OWI personnel file.
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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 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:

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