Exhibit reveals Prague through eyes of KGB agents

The National History Museum of Latvia on Tuesday unveils a unique exhibit "Prague through the lens of the secret service". 

It depicts Prague of the 70s and 80s of the 20th century as photographed by KGB agents who followed dissidents and other "untrusty" people.

As agents took the pictures in secret, the photos were taken at peculiar moments and often include passersby, reported Latvian Radio Tuesday. 

"It's interesting to read how employees of the Secret Police described the moments of taking the photos. For example, the [description of the] object 'Alice 85': 'The object is often looking back when walking, looking at passersby. The object acts peacefully, without any indications of control," said Astrīda Burbicka, reading a commentary added to a series of 1985 photos in which a young woman was followed around the Czech capital.

All of the people in the photos are described with pseudonyms, like Philosopher 3, The Parisienne, African, Alpha 1, Doctor A, etc.

The head of the National Museum of the Czech Republic Mikhal Lukesh said that the exhibit has traveled from the The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague that holds the archives of the Czechoslovakian KGB.

"In this exhibit we see photos from the Security Police, how people were followed and how security institutions broke into people's private lives, and how shameless they were with their cameras," he said.

As KGB agents were undercover, they hid their cameras under coats, in trunks and bags, so the photos often include people other than their objects of interest. The photos are interesting in that they reveal the atmosphere of Prague, which was not that different from that of Rīga.

"It's just like the creators of the exhibit say, that it's the people followed by the Secret Police who have kept their freedom within themselves and look more relaxed and happy than the others who we see in the photographs," said Astrīda Burbicka. 

While a representative of the museum Ilze Miķelsone said that if there were no notices in Czech, it just as well could have been Rīga as you can see the same Lada cars, Ikarus buses, and grey apartment buildings.

The exhibit also features cameras with which the agents worked, creatively hidden in buttonholes, glasses and even infant strollers.

The exhibit opens March 15 and will be open until late May.

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