KGB study commission still kept away from archives

Take note – story published 8 years ago

Part of the KGB archives are still hidden from scientists studying secret service documents prior to their release, Kristīne Jarinovska, deputy head of the Commission for the Study of KGB Materials, told Latvian Television Monday. 

Parts of the KGB archive are open to the public, while the rest of it is located at the Center of Documenting the Consequences of Totalitarianism under the control of the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB).

Within such an arrangement, only officials enjoying high-level security clearances can access the complete archive.

"Part [of the documents] is hidden, and hidden from scientists as well," said Jarinovska.

Jarinovska revealed that the partially burned KGB documents, found in the Police College and handed to the Security Police last year, have changed hands again, this time going to the SAB as per the agreement between the bureau and the Security Police. Consequently, researchers cannot access these documents.

"It's inappropriate and inadequate that parts of the documents about the agency [KGB] are stored in the Center of Documenting the Consequences of Totalitarianism and part of it is stored, for example, in the Latvian National Archive," said Jarinovska.

"Why are they doing that? I don't know," said Jarinovska, perplexed about the possible causes of this over-the-top secrecy.

Jarinovska revealed that as a result of this neither she nor anyone else from the KGB research commission has had the chance to actually see the archives of the Soviet secret service. 

Jarinovska said that the Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee at the Latvian parliament is pushing amendments that would give the documents currently at the SAB to research.

While the Constitution Protection Bureau has offered to make two researchers employees at the institution, so that they can legally access the documents they need to do their job fully. 

The commission's first research papers, published in a book titled "The Repressions and Control of Society under Totalitarianism", will be opened on March 23 in Rīga. 

In a fascinating aside, Jarinovska revealed that the Latvian literati of the Soviet Era were encouraged to collaborate with the secret services with exclusive things like tights and lingerie for their wives and daughters, trips to resorts, loans, and even potatoes, the price of which was high back then.

The special government-appointed Commission for the Study of KGB Materials was formed after Saeima ruled that such a research study of the available documentation must proceed before the entire archive is made freely accessible to the public.

It has been clear for a long time that the records are not fully complete and therefore cannot serve as evidence for establishing the fact of collaboration by informants with a repressive agency of the Soviet Union. The end of May, 2018 has been set as the time for opening the KGB archives to the public.

A popular assumption in society is that parts of the records are kept secret because they contain material that might embarrass influential individuals still enjoying a degree of prominence today.

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