KGB archive could be opened this year

Politicians from Latvia's ruling coalition said they were in agreement June 4 that the Latvian archives of the former Soviet security service, the KGB, should be made public by the end of this year.

A meeting of the coalition parties said that the responsible parliamentary committee should now work with the conclusions of historians and researchers who are the only people so far to have been given access to the secret files.

Imants Paradnieks, a board member of the National Alliance; Augusts Brigmanis, the chairman of the Greens and Farmers Union parliamentary faction, and Arvils Aseradens, the chairman of the Unity party, voiced support for declassification of the KGB documents when speaking to the press.

Paradnieks said that declassification must be done this year. Referring to the request by the commission of researchers for an extension of the deadline for producing their final report, he said that the researchers must complete the work for which they had been paid.

Brigmanis and Aseradens also agreed that the KGB documents should be made public this year.

Brigmanis thanked the commission researching the KGB files for their work but said that their findings were vast and still had to be studied in detail. The bill proposed by the researchers most probably should be forwarded to the parliamentary committee on human rights and public affairs for the discussion about what to do next, Brigmanis said.

As previously reported, the research commission has recommended that the KGB files should be gradually digitalized and published on the Internet by May 4, 2028, at the latest.

Karlis Kangeris, the chairman of the research commission, said by May 31 they had produced proposals for a draft Law on Transparency and Prevention of Recurrence of a Totalitarian Regime (the Transparency Law) and sent them to the parliamentary committee on legal affairs.

The Latvian parliament in May 2014 passed in the final reading the amendments to the law about storage and use of the KGB files under which a government-approved panel of researchers was created to study those files until 2018 before making public the sensitive materials. The panel was to submit its final report to the Cabinet of Ministers by May 31, however now has requested an extension.

The possibility of releasing information from KGB files that were left behind in Latvia after the Baltic state restored its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 has been discussed in Latvia at regular intervals during the past years with some arguing that the former KGB agents should be exposed and others questioning the authenticity of the documents and information contained in them. Consequently while some people advocate full and immediate disclosure, others argue that to do so would cause more harm than good, with numerous nuanced positions in between.

However, the fact parliamentary elections take place October 6 make it extremely unlikely the files would be made public before then due to potential political sensitivites, which would leave just a window of less than three months if the year-end deadline is to be achieved.

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