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Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 01:51 GMT 02:51 UK
Bulgarian spies run for parliament
Bulgarian parliament
Six former spies have already have served in the country's four post-communist parliaments
At least 78 of the candidates standing in Bulgaria's forthcoming legislative elections served as agents for the country's communist secret police, a commission examining archive files revealed on Friday.

The candidates all worked either as spies, in military or civil counter-espionage or for the country's secret police during the reign of communism.

Nato leaders at 50th anniversary summit
Bulgaria is keen to join Nato
Six of those candidates already have served in the country's four post-communist parliaments, and a total of 52 former secret police agents have been elected, according to earlier revelations by the commission.

The list of former spies was compiled under a new law providing public access to secret police archives.

Breaking from the past

No action will be taken against the former spies except to make public their co-operation with the communist regime.

Lawmakers say the revelations will help Bulgaria break with its communist past.

Bulgaria is trying to join Nato, and alliance states are demanding that the former Soviet ally purge its ranks of former spies.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on Friday called for all parties fielding candidates in the elections to exclude anyone who collaborated with the country's communist secret services.

"It's not a moral question, but rather one of national security," he said.

Incomplete picture

The election is due to take place on 17 June and a total of 5,679 candidates are running for the 240-seat parliament on the ballots of 54 parties.

A list of the former agents among the candidates was handed to the state BTA news agency, the commission said.

Communist secret police files were partially opened in 1997 to screen senior politicians and state officials, but lawmakers argued that all of the files must be opened now.

Even so, the opening of the files may not reflect a complete picture of Bulgaria's past.

Interior ministry officials have said that some 40% of the files in the archive were destroyed by security officials shortly after the fall of communism in 1989.

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See also:

03 May 01 | Europe
Bulgarian ex-king in the running
04 Apr 01 | Europe
Ex-king to unveil political plans
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bulgaria
15 Jan 01 | Europe
Timeline: Bulgaria
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