Tens of thousands delve into KGB archives on first day

There has been great interest into the Latvian KGB archives opened December 20 online for everyone to see, said Latvian National Archives director Māra Sprūdža.

In an interview with Latvian Radio, Sprūdža said there were no technical problems despite the huge traffic. 

According to Google Analytics data, on December 20 there were 54,000 visits to the website set up for the purpose; and by noon on December 21 there have been a further 19,000 visits.

Most of the visitors come from Latvia, followed by Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the US, Canada and the UK, she said, adding that about 12,000 people have registered to access the KGB archives.

Available at https://kgb.arhivi.lv/, the archive includes alphabetic and statistical card indexes, the dossiers of recruited KGB agents, the KGB employees' phonebooks, as well as materials on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Soviet Latvia.

According to Latvia's state bulletin, the index spans some 4,300 out of about 25,000 KGB agents active in the period from 1953 to 1991, but it mostly concerns agents active in the late 1980s.

It's clear that the archive is incomplete. For days, black smoke was seen rising from the chimneys of the KGB building, where the trove of documents was found, before it was overtaken by pro-independence forces as the USSR fell. 

The index cards have the name, surname, year and location of birth, address, workplace, nationality, education, code name and other information on KGB recruits.

Archives related to communist party management are to be published next year. Contrary to some coverage in international media, the inclusion of a name in the filing system does not automatically qualify that individual as a "collaborator".

Read more about the KGB archives here. A complementary piece discusses a couple of problems with the reliability of the files.

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