International researchers and former officials are meeting at the Hoover Institution to address the impact of Western broadcasting—especially Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)—during the Cold War.
Organizers are the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The conference was made possible by a generous gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation. The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands is sponsoring a synthesis of the conference results.
Vaclav Havel, once a dissident and later president of the Czech Republic, welcomed conference participants in a video message. He said the "influence and significance of RFE/RL broadcasts had been great and profound."
George P. Shultz, Hoover Distinguished Fellow opened the conference. He said the research presented this week "would contribute to a better understanding of an important period of world history and contribute to our ability to structure communications in the new global political arena."
Hoover Director John Raisian introduced human rights activist Elena Bonner and RFE/RL President Tom Dine, who addressed the meeting. The conference was organized by Hoover research fellow A. Ross Johnson. Participants included Dr. Elena Bashkirova, president of the Romir survey research firm in Moscow; Professor Istvan Rev, head of the Open Society Archives in Budapest; Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general; and former RFE/RL, VOA, and BBC broadcasting officials.
The conference is discussing papers based on research in previously inaccessible East European and former Soviet communist archives. These materials include secret Communist Party discussions of broadcasting impact and propaganda countermeasures, secret police plans to penetrate RFE/RL, directives on jamming, and internal secret audience surveys.
This research will now be enriched by work in the extensive RFE/RL corporate records and broadcast archives, which have been donated to the Hoover Institution (http://hoorferl.stanford.edu). Hoover Associate Director Elena Danielson, who co-hosted the conference, announced the opening of most of this collection for research.
The Hoover Institution and the CWIHP will publish a summary of the proceedings and an edited volume of key papers and translated archival documents.