Thursday, 13 August 2009

Potential Can Of Worms For Bulgarian Ex-Communist Collaborators

There are many ex-communists Bulgarian who shudder at the thought of old records being declassified. That is a separate issue but now is a good time to make that action as the files are being moved to their new home anyway. I have a funny feeling that many will just disappear in the move – mysteriously!

Potential Can Of Worms For Bulgarian Ex-Communist Collaborators
Bulgaria's most important legacy from the communist regime, the secret police files, will be stored at two buildings, located some twenty kilometers from the capital Sofia, near the town of Bankya.

The old barracks are undergoing repair works, monitored by the so-called Files Commission, a special panel, investigating Bulgaria's communist-era police files, which will turn them into a modern storehouse for documents.

The archives are expected to be collected from the different special services, where they are currently kept, and transported to the new location this autumn.

A total of BGN 15 M will be invested in the repair works.

Bulgaria's new Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has vowed to deal with the issue of communist-era secrets in a conclusive manner and fulfill hopes for a full and final declassification of the files prepared by the country's intelligence services before the fall of the regime.
Even before his official inauguration Borisov approached the parliament, where his party GERB holds a majority, with a request to approve the full declassification of the files as quickly as possible.
For years on end Bulgaria's politicians have been inching towards a further opening of the files, producing only unsatisfactory and politically compromised results.

A partial opening of the files under an anti-communist government in 1997 first gave over 25,000 Bulgarians access to their own dossiers, and led to the naming of around 150 state security collaborators (a parliamentary commission identified several MPs, ministers and candidates for public office as former agents).

However, in 2002 new legislation on access to information gave the power to declassify files to the successor bodies of the communist-era intelligence services. As a result, little progress was made in the direction of declassification.

More effective solutions were sought in the years afterwards and culminated in the establishment of the Files Commission in April 2007 as part of Bulgaria's long overdue efforts to finally face up to its totalitarian past and disclose who did what for the secret police under communism.

The list that the commission has prepared so far features Socialist President Georgi Parvanov, former MPs, former constitutional judges, supreme magistrates, investigators, members of parliament, prominent and well-known former and current Bulgarian journalists.

The files of the former Committee for State Security are a thorny issue in Bulgaria, especially when it comes to the past of high-ranking officials.

Bulgaria's communist-era security service is believed to have remained potent after the fall of communism with the ex-operatives closely linked to the political and business establishment.

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