Latvia to disclose names of former KGB agents March 1, 2007

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The Latvian parliament voted Thursday to disclose the contents of KGB files containing the names of former secret police agents on March 1, 2007, a parliament spokesman said.

On October 18, the legal affairs commission of the parliament finalized amendments to a draft law on the disclosure of information about former KGB agents, and decided to postpone the release of declassified data from November 1, 2006 until March 1, 2007.

The commission said it intends to publish all 4,500 names and aliases used by former KGB agents in Latviisky vestnik, an official government newsletter.

The discussion of the need to disclose information about secret KGB agents has been ongoing in Latvia since 1991, when the country gained its independence from the Soviet Union. In 2004, parliament officially endorsed disclosure.

According to Latvian law, former agents of the Soviet state security services may not vote in any elections or be elected, so the disclosure may deal a telling blow to Latvia's political elite.

Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga strongly opposed the disclosure, saying that publishing information about former KGB agents will endanger their privacy and personal security.

Commenting on the decision, well-known Latvian historian Pyotr Krupnikov said the disclosure makes little sense at present.

He said KGB leadership realized in 1990 that the Soviet rule may end soon and ordered to transfer the most sensitive part of the archives to Moscow.

"And now they [the Latvian authorities] want to publish the part [of the archives] that had been left, although it is clear that the most important data was taken to Moscow and, most probably, will never be made public," Krupnikov said.

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