Founded in Prague during a 1949 “Peace Congress” sponsored by the USSR and its Eastern European satellites, the World Peace Council (WPC) was the Soviet Union’s major international front organization during the Cold War era. Operating under the joint control of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the KGB, the Council sought to influence public opinion and government policies in non-Communist countries along lines that promoted Soviet policy goals. Toward that end, WPC focused on placing all the blame for the nuclear arms race on Western warmongering.
WPC first set up its offices in Paris but was expelled by the French government in 1952 for allegedly engaging in “fifth column” activities. After relocating to Prague and then to Vienna, the Council was banned by the Austrian government in 1957 but continued to operate covertly in Vienna as the International Institute for Peace. In 1968 the Council re-assumed its original name and moved its headquarters to Helsinki, Finland, where it remained until 2000, at which time it relocated again to Athens, Greece.
In 1978 the House Intelligence Committee released a major CIA report that identified WPC as a Soviet front group. Subsequent government reports and State Department documents continued to echo that claim.
In 1979 WPC characterized the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as a reaction to Chinese and U.S. aggression against Afghanistan.
By the end of the 1980s, WPC claimed to represent more than 2,000 participating parties and movements from 140 countries around the world, but fully 90 percent of its $40 million annual budget was supplied by the Soviet Union. When the USSR collapsed in 1991, this funding largely dried up, causing WPC to dramatically scale back its operations across the globe. As of December 2011, the Council maintained a presence in just 20 countries.
Casting American “imperialism” as the chief obstacle to the realization of the foregoing goals, WPC boasts that it has “organized many protest demonstrations against U.S. interventions in Colombia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua and invasions of Grenada and Panama”; “opposed both Gulf Wars and the war on Afghanistan”; “condemn[ed] vehemently the [American] blockade against Cuba and … U.S. interventions in the internal affairs of that country”; and “insist[ed] that the U.S. government and other Imperialists stop their attempts to overthrow the legitimate government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.”
WPC also contends that the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be resolved by “a just, two-state solution” authorizing the creation of “an independent State of Palestine within the borders of 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
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