It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and most of the world still wrongly believes that the culprit was the CIA, or the FBI, or the mafia, or right-wing American businessmen. It has been also 50 years since the Kremlin started an intense, worldwide disinformation operation, codenamed “Dragon,” aimed at diverting attention away from the KGB’s connection with Lee Harvey Oswald. Not unrelated are the facts that Oswald was an American Marine who defected to Moscow, returned to the United States three years later with a Russian wife, killed President Kennedy, and was arrested before being able to carry out his plan to escape back to Moscow. In a letter dated July 1, 1963, Oswald asked the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., to grant his wife an immediate entrance visa to the Soviet Union, and to grant another one to him, separtably (misspelling and emphasis as in the original).
The Kremlin’s “Dragon” operation is described in my book Programmed to Kill: Moscow’s Responsibility for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In 2010, this book was presented at a conference of the Organization of American Historians together with a review by Prof. Stan Weber (McNeese State University). He described the book as “a superb new paradigmatic work on the death of President Kennedy” and a “must read for everyone interested in the assassination.”[i]
Programmed to Kill is a factual analysis of that KGB crime of the century committed during the Khrushchev era. In those days, the former chief KGB adviser in Romania had become the head of the almighty Soviet foreign espionage service and pushed me up to the top levels of the Soviet bloc intelligence clique. My book also contains a factual presentation of Khrushchev’s frantic efforts to cover his backside. Recalling that the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip had set off the First World War, Khrushchev was afraid that, if America should learn about the KGB’s involvement with Oswald, it might ignite the first nuclear war. Khrushchev’s interests happened to coincide with those of Lyndon Johnson, the new U.S. president, who was facing elections in less than a year, and any conclusion implicating the Soviet Union in the assassination would have forced Johnson to take undesired political or even military action, adding to his already widely unpopular stance on the war in Vietnam.
According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”