New Law on KGB: Criminal Liability for Exposure of “Finks”

2004 2004-07-01T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

During the last day of its session the House of Representatives passed the Law “About the state security bodies of the Republic of Belarus” in its first reading. This is not the first version of the Law on KGB: the first one was adopted in 1993 by the Supreme Soviet of the 12th convocation. Then the representatives of the BPF party in opposition managed to block a number of provisions, which would provide KGB with some extraordinary functions.

Only 3 MPs voted against the present draft law. The law is still not in effect; it is adopted only in the first reading. Most probably, its second reading will be considered by the next parliament. However, some experts point out the law might still be passed by the current parliament during its fall session. It is noticeable, that the MPs chose the law about state security bodies out of dozens of laws proposed for the last day of the session.

According to the new law, KGB members have the right to break doors open without the prosecutor’s sanction. They can get the prosecutor’s sanction later, during 24 hours after breaking in. This concerns not only the property of Belarusian citizens and organizations. Under Art 14 of the law, KGB agents have the right to penetrate into offices belonging to foreign citizens and organizations, which gather intelligence and might impair the security interests of Belarus. Naturally, KGB will be the body setting the criteria of such “impairment”.

Eventually, Belarusian security services have ventured to interfere in the activities of foreign organizations without the law innovations. For instance, 3 years ago the KGB agents burst into the apartment rented by Michal Plavec, member of Czech human rights organization “People in Need”. Michal Plavec was deported from Belarus.

The new draft law allows KGB agents to infiltrate into organizations and companies, including private ones, under cover of usual employment. At the same time, if someone publicly exposes an agent, he will face criminal liability under Art 18 of the Law.

In Latvia, for instance, the parliament voted to extend the ban to hold public posts for KGB agents for 10 years more. According to the Latvian law, all KGB archives will be declassified.

In Belarus the “confidential” stamp remains even on documents of 70 years ago, including the 1930’-1950’ repression. The secret services have never exposed anyone who executed people in Kurapaty.

Many people would think the issue of KGB archives is irrelevant and interesting only for historians. Vasil Bykaw, famous Belarusian writer, was of different opinion about the link of intelligence services and modern politics. In 1995 he told Belarusian office of RFE/RL: “KGB providently sending all files to Moscow has determined the choice of the Belarusian leadership: not West, but East”.