Latvian KGB files to be published online within next three weeks

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The files held by the KGB in Latvia, known colloquially as the  "Cheka bags", will be published online before Christmas, the director of the Latvian National Archives, Māra Sprūdža, told Latvian Radio December 3.

That means that after more than two decades of debate and controversy about when, if and how the information contained in the files is released into the public sphere, the next three weeks will provide the answer.

According to Sprūdža, the Center for the Documentation of the Effects of Totalitarianism has forwarded to the National Archives of Latvia a full set of documents for publication of the Czech bag before the year-end deadline approved by Saeima earlier this year. 

"We have started to look at and experiment with the file contents to see if we can securely publish them and not have a situation in which people cannot get access, to make sure we have an optimal solution for people to easily open and view the contents," Sprūdža told Latvian Radio.

Technical work is currently under way to ensure the information will be made public before Christmas, and will coincide with a virtual exhibition to place them in context.

In order to view the documents, registration via email address will be required on the Latvian National Archives website.

However, the full contents of the whole archive will not be available immediately. Initially only the KGB's typed "agent cards", the KGB telephone directory and official documents giving details of various administrative and procedural methods will be viewable.

Sprūdža predicted that public interest in the "Cheka bags" would be intense during the first days the contents appears online, but that some people might be disappointed that everything was not immediately available and searchable - with precise searches likely to be available only next May and before then further approval is required from the incoming government.

As previously reported by LSM, on October 4, the final sitting of the 12th Saeima supported amendments to the law which stipulated the publication on the Latvian National Archives website this year of several documents of the former KGB. Subsequently, it is planned to publish other documents related to the work of the KGB while Latvia was under Soviet occupation.

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