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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Latvia votes to release KGB files
Latvians celebrate the fall of communism in 1991
Files were left behind by the KGB after the Soviet Union collapsed
The Latvian parliament has voted to make public thousands of KGB files left in the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The decision means the documents and material of the former Soviet secret service will be open to everyone.

There are concerns that old wounds will be reopened, putting some people in danger of recriminations.

Latvian law dictates that anyone with a KGB record cannot stand for public office for 10 years.

Since 1994, Latvians have been able to see own files but the contents were publicised only if they ran for public office or tried to get a job in law enforcement.

There have been examples of such disclosures affecting careers - two Social Democrat MPs, Juris Bojars and Janis Adamsons, lost their parliamentary posts in 1993 and 2000 respectively after their files showed they had worked for the KGB.

Incomplete

Maris Grinblats, MP for the For Fatherland and Freedom party, supported the decision to make the files public.

"This will remove an unnecessary veil of secrecy from these files," he said.

The files of the big fish were taken to Moscow
Indulis Zalite,
Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism
"I think it's doing more harm than good being closed from the public."

However, Indulis Zalite, director of the Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism, which oversees the documents warns that the files are incomplete.

He said the files only give names of agents active in 1991 and where they were recruited, but they do not say if a person was an active member or just being watched.

"Eighty-five percent of the names contained in the files were not involved in anti-political activities," he said.

"These are not the people responsible for the bloody period of the 1940s and 1950s. The files of the big fish were taken to Moscow."

Mr Zalite believes the documents should remain sealed for 40 to 50 more years until those named have died.

The parliament vote was passed by 78 to nine, with 11 MPs not voting and two abstentions.

Latvian Prime Minister Indulis Emsis, speaking to reporters after the vote, said that all information in the KGB files should be looked at "carefully".




SEE ALSO:
Latvians poke fun at Soviet past
11 Apr 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Latvia
01 Apr 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Latvia
02 Apr 03  |  Country profiles


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