"Chaos Agent" Yuri Bezmenov

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As a journalist with the Soviet state sponsored Novosti Press Agency, Yuri Bezmenov’s unofficial duties included propaganda and subversion work for the KGB. In 1969, Bezmenov defected to the United States and was rechristened Thomas Schuman by the CIA. He was resettled in Canada as a favour to Ottawa’s American intelligence partners. Through official intelligence records released under the Access to Information Act and interviews with family members, journalist Jorge Barrera tells the story of this "chaos agent’s" turbulent life and “toxic relationship with Canada’s intelligence services.”  

Bezmenov’s daughter recalls that her father “saw himself as a prophet.” He imagined evidence of Soviet penetration and disinformation everywhere. Bezmenov’s alarmist message gained very little currency and his former handlers in the Canadian intelligence community reported that he worked "with lower level fringe groups of little consequence." But decades after Bezmenov's 1993 death, against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s presidency, his warnings about Soviet disinformation began to attract millions of views on YouTube.

Bezmenov’s relative obscurity in life contrasts sharply with the apparent contemporary resonance of his worldview. As further evidence of Yuri Bezmenov’s posthumous fame, Barrera cites both the New York Times’ use of his recordings in a 2020 video series on the origins of fake news, and the inclusion of clips of Bezmenov in a trailer for the Call of Duty video game series.

This briefing book is comprised of five official Canadian intelligence files on Yuri Bezmenov, alias Thomas Schuman. These records were requested and made available by Jorge Barrera. Read his full 2022 piece, “Chaos Agent,” here. For a broader survey of Canada’s Cold War defectors, consult historian Timothy Andrews Sayle’s 2021 article, “We now know...a little bit more: Canada’s Cold War defectors.” 

"Chaos Agent" Yuri Bezmenov