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Bulgaria Opens Security Services’ Archives

2007 2007-06-27T14:37:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

After 17 years of political and economic transformation Bulgaria, as a last country of the former Soviet camp, is trying to reckon with its Communist past. The country is opening the archives of the Communist security service and puts lustration of top officials into practice.

The Bulgarian parliament made a decision to declassify the archives of the Communist security service in December last year, two weeks before the country joined the European Union.

In April this year a special Lustration Commission was created out of MPs and representatives of various circles of the society. The commission is headed by former MP from the Socialist party Evtim Kostadinov.

“We want to know to what extent the security services controlled the society, and how wide the long hand of these services reached," says Kostadinov.

The commission screened the 218 candidates running in Bulgaria's first European Parliament elections on May 20, and found out that 6 had collaborated with the former state security services.

In the coming weeks the Commission will release the results of the checks of Constitutional Court judges and state top officials. In the future, before all elections, the commission will screen all candidates, from president to city councilor, to check if they have collaborated with the Communist security services.

In August the commission is to take full control of the archives. According to the law, before the end of this year, every citizen will be able to get access to the documents. In a special reading hall the citizens will be able to read not only their personal files, but any files in the archives.

However, many people in Bulgaria doubt if the archives will be really opened. There is a fear that the Commission may become too politicized, and turn into an instrument of political struggle between different parties, as it is happening in Poland.

Officers of the former security services occupy leading positions in the political elites. It is not

in their interest to disclose the methods of their work, and the names of the recruited people, in particular. Probably, it was these people who insisted on the amendments to the draft law, according to which, for the national security reasons, the documents concerning some officials, ambassadors, in particular, will not be subject for disclosure.

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