Researchers ask president to open up KGB files

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The commission tasked with studying records of the repressive Soviet KGB security force ask president Raimonds Vējonis to amend Latvia's laws and open up the trove of so-called 'Cheka files' to the public, the committee told the press on November 13. 

The committee is to ask the president to revoke the 1994 law on the use of KGB files and put up the files, currently presided over by the Constitution Protection Bureau, in public access. 

The researchers stressed that the KGB and its predecessors were only one of the numerous authorities of the occupying Soviet powers.

"The repressions were organized by the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist party of Latvia.

"The Minister Council of the Latvian SSR, as well as the undemocratically formed city and municipal executive committees, ministries - especially the Interior Ministry - courts, prosecutors, and pan-Soviet institutions as well as the Latvian institution of the Council on Religious Cults on the USSR and others were involved in cementing the regime, in repressions and spying on their fellow citizens. It's necessary to research not only the KGB but the system as a whole," the release reads.

The researchers go on to say that the KGB also operated through front organizations including tourism and purported cultural exchange institutions as well as universities and youth organizations.

It is by far not the first time the committee has requested the documents to be placed into public access. 

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.

But it's unclear in what form the documents will be set to appear publicly. Just on November 12 LTV's De Facto reported that important information - possibly the names and surnames of the people involved - is being deleted as KGB files are sanitized in the Delta database at the Constitution Protection Bureau, before being handed to scientists for research purposes.

The bureau head Jānis Maizītis told LTV that this is taking place as "third party rights may be violated" should the data be handed for research in raw format, and that Saeima should simply change the law that would make it available for public access.  

Meanwhile KGB files at the Latvian National Archive are available to scientists, despite containing sensitive information about the people involved.

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