The Zinoviev Letter: A Century of Fake News?

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The Zinoviev Letter of 1924, encouraging the British proletariat to greater revolutionary effort, was apparently sent by Grigori Zinoviev, head of the Bolshevik propaganda organisation, to the British Communist Party in September 1924. Received in London through Secret Intelligence Service channels, it arrived just as Britain’s first Labour government had resigned, was leaked to the press in the general election campaign and used to humiliate Labour by their political opponents.

Almost certainly a forgery, no original of the letter has ever been traced, it has had an enduring impact on British politics as a symbol of political dirty tricks. Today, when fake news and disinformation are subjects of intense concern globally, the Zinoviev Letter episode has not lost its relevance. An expert panel will discuss the insights that this classic example of disinformation offers into the nature of political discourse, and into current concerns over information warfare and the use of disinformation as a strategic tool.

Panellists include:

  • Gill Bennett OBE MA FRHistS, Associate Fellow, RUSI and former Chief Historian, Foreign and Commonwealth Office;
  • Sir David Omand GCB, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI, and former UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator;
  • The Rt Hon Jack Straw, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI, and former UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Signed copies of the latest books by Gill Bennett and Sir David Omand (Principled Spying: Oxford University Press, 2018) will be on sale at a special price of £15 each.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

Refreshments will be served from 1215.

To attend this event, please register online using the "Register Now" button above. If you have any queries please contact Annalinda Riley, at or call +44 (0)20 7747 2600.

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