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Old 29th May 2017, 13:27
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Ukrainians discover stories of repressed relatives in newly opened KGB archives
EUROMAIDAN PRESS Ihor Vynokonurov 2017/05/16

Russia and Ukraine hold the world’s largest documentary collections of Communist secret services that ceased to exist in the early 1990s but once had been extremely powerful and disposed the future of millions. These documents cover the major part of the 20th-century history, including economic, social, and cultural life, various domains of domestic policy and international relations.

The dissolution of the USSR in 1991 gave rise to the expectations that the new Russia would open these files to the world and its own citizens. And the veil indeed began to lift but stopped halfway. The creeping revenge of the unreformed state security machine pulled it back down, which means that myriads of secrets remain concealed from the public domain.

The radical liberalization of access to ex-KGB archives in post-Maidan Ukraine, like other democratic changes, may be seen as belated, but its role can hardly be overestimated. It allows many thousands of people to find out what they did not know about their relatives who had been repressed. It demonstrates that the crimes of political regimes and the names of their perpetrators sooner or later come to light. And last but not least, it is a sign that the Ukrainian state is starting to trust the civic society.

A colleague of the Russian cultural historian Vitaly Shentalinsky, who studied the files of the writers repressed during the Stalin era in the former KGB archives, compared him to Dante, who, in The Divine Comedy, descended to the inferno and came back to the human world.

In the past two years, both Ukrainians and foreigners have received a unique opportunity to study the papers of Soviet security agencies preserved in Ukrainian archives even without leaving home. My friend, the artist and civic activist Yaroslav Synytsya has used this chance to find out how the KGB predecessor, NKVD, had arrested, charged, and interrogated his grandparents in the 1940s—before sending them to serve long years in a prison camp.

Yaroslav’s grandparents did not readily talk about that time: the burden of suffering was too heavy. What they did recall, nonetheless, would be enough for an adventure romance plot. It was a settlement for the former gulag prisoners in North Russia where they, the young people from West Ukraine, met and fell in love.

Everything Yaroslav needed in order to learn more in 2017 was to send an online request to the main archives of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) at the email arhivsbu@ssu.gov.ua. Just in a few days, he received the scanned copies of the relevant documents found in the regional SBU repositories. He knows now that his Grandpa Dmytro had been sentenced to ten years in a Soviet gulag for unarmed involvement in one operation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army during WWII, and Grandma Mariya had got 25 years for feeding the insurgents milk and bread and holding their anti-communist leaflets.

Yaroslav is planning to continue his search and gather as many pieces of his family mosaic against the backdrop of the brutal 20th century as possible.

And the prospects of such a search look promising. On 9 April 2015, the Ukrainian parliament adopted the law “On the Access to the Archives of the Repressive Organs of the Communist Totalitarian Regime of 1917—1991.” Based on this law, the SBU opened its archives to the wider public for the second time in the history of independent Ukraine.

The first attempt made in 2007 lacked strong a legal framework and was subsequently canceled under President Viktor Yanukovych. Fortunately for researchers, even Yanukovych did not accede to the agreement with Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Kazakhstan that required the consent of all other parties to declassify any secret archival document.

http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...-image-26.jpeg
Files of the Soviet repressive agencies available now for research in Ukraine could make a 150-km line. Photo: Taisiya Stetsenko

Now, according to the 2015 law, the Soviet-time records of a number of security agencies (including the Interior Ministry, foreign intelligence, prosecutor’s office, border and penitentiary services) in the Ukrainian capital and regions is open unconditionally along with the SBU archives. If all those materials were put in a row, it would stretch for 150 kilometers. Eventually, all the files concerning the repressive policy and practice are to be transferred to a new single public repository.
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The key points of the law are the unrestricted access to the archival information, particularly to the personal data of the staff and non-staff members of the repressive organs, and non-recognition of any USSR secrecy stamps.
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Open access is of great importance for the Ukrainian society given that the country was particularly hit by the Soviet repressions, a combination of bloody retribution for potent resistance movements with a paranoid witch-hunt. Now the living victims of the persecution and their relatives are provided welcoming conditions to uncover the truth that was hidden for decades.

One film producer had never seen the photo of his great-grandfather until he came to the SBU archives with a professional purpose of making a documentary. Occasionally, visitors can even handle personal belongings of the arrested, which had been stored together with interrogation reports, such as pocketbooks, handkerchiefs, or hats. A box containing the case file of the Ukrainian dissident Stepan Khmara preserved his raincoat and, strangely, a bucket.

“Sometimes I personally take part in processing the request as a consultant,” says Roman Podkur, an expert in the history of Soviet special services. “People want to find out how their grandfathers, great-grandfathers, or fathers conducted themselves during the interrogation, and whether they were able not to bow down.”

In a year since the respective law was adopted, the number of citizen requests sent to the main SBU archives increased by 138%, while the number of its foreign visitors in 2016 doubled compared to the previous year.

Under the new law, the Ukrainian government takes responsibility to systematically digitize the documents of the repressive bodies, as well as to provide electronic copies on demand. Also, visitors of the archives can freely copy those documents using their own cameras or portable scanners. All this makes Ukrainian archives a Klondike for researchers of Soviet history from around the world. Such a liberal mode of access to the huge documentary collections of the communist secret services is quite unusual even compared to EU standards.

“It is simply a pleasure to work in the Ukrainian archives,” enthusiastically says the Czech historian Štěpán Černoušek, chairman of the organization Gulag.cz, which studies the fates of Czechoslovak victims of the Soviet repressive system. “While in Russia, everything is ‘top secret,’” he adds, “in Ukraine, everything is freely available.”

One may wonder why the access to the similar and sometimes identical documents of a nonexistent state and its institutions is so different in Ukraine and Russia. To understand this, it is worth looking into the use the Soviet special agencies made of archival records, and the latter’s afterlife in the post-Soviet era.

http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...-image-27.jpeg
1937 Soviet poster by Boris Yefimov glorifying the NKVD and its chief Nikolai Yezhov for eradicating the “enemies of the people.” In 1940, Yezhov and Yefimov’s brother Mikhail Koltsov were also declared “enemies” and executed

In the USSR, archives both accumulated the records of state terror and served as a tool for its implementation. Investigators studied them as a source of carefully collected personal information that could once ruin the life of a potential victim. Since 1938, all the Soviet state archival repositories were subordinated to the punitive agency, NKVD (later MVD).

Based on the files from the state archives, 108,694 “enemies of the people” were “exposed” in 1939. Next year, when the NKVD thoroughly combed the archives of annexed West Ukraine, West Belarus, Bessarabia, and the Baltic states, the number of those “exposed” was almost thirteen times as many (nearly 1.4 million). The archives of the Communist Party formed a separate system which was also instrumental for political purges and persecution.

In 1991, the Soviet empire was mortally ill, and its secrecy stamps were likely to become null and void. On 24 August, after the coup of the communist orthodoxy failed in Moscow and the day when Ukraine declared independence, Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued two decrees on the transfer of CPSU (Communist Party) and KGB archives to the state (meaning non-USSR, Russian) repositories.

Yeltsin was himself the son of a repressed peasant: in 1934, when he was only three, his father was sentenced to 3 years in labor camps for “anti-Soviet agitation.” Only when Yeltsin became president did he get a chance to page his father’s case file. In 1991, Yeltsin was also handed the recent transcripts of KGB tapping of his own phone—with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s remarks on the margins.

You are welcome to send a request regarding the Soviet repressive bodies, their victims, and agents, to Ukraine’s SBU archives at arhivsbu@ssu.gov.ua. Now it is not the state information—it is yours.

Ukrainians discover stories of repressed relatives in newly opened KGB archives -Euromaidan Press |
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 18th August 2017, 13:43
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Old UPA docs reveal revolutionary activities in Soviet Ukraine in 1950s
EUROMAIDAN PRESS Halyna Tereshchuk 2017/08/15 - 23:10

http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten..._feature-3.jpg
Lists of Ukrainian families exiled to Siberia from 1940 to 1948

A “digger” recently found a large can (milk churn) containing UPA archival materials in Yanivsky forest near Lviv. The contents were transferred to the Director of the National Museum “Prison on Lontskoho” to be stored in the archives of the Liberation Movement Research Centre. The last document dates back to 1951, indicating that the archives have been in the ground for 66 years. Among the materials is valuable information about the activities of the Ukrainian underground in 1948-1951, many printed publications and, for the first time, a children’s magazine that was published by the underground movement in the 1940s.
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The container has a number – 8809, and a date – 1946. The Soviet government purposely numbered and dated all containers as NKVD officers were fully aware that Ukrainian underground fighters used them to hide their documents and bury them in nearby forests. If milk cooperatives failed to present the right number of milk churns, then some workers would probably be suspected of cooperating with the UPA. UPA soldiers often set fire to local stables and buildings, taking the churns with them so that no one would be arrested by the NKVD.

http://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433

Thanks to the sandy soil in Yanivsky forest, the can was very well preserved although the materials were slightly damp. Almost all the documents are legible and dated between 1948 and the first half of 1951, covering Lviv, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblasts, and part of Chernivtsi Oblast. The Director of the “Prison on Lontskoho”, historian Ruslan Zabily, believes that the archives were brought in from different regions to Lviv Oblast, probably for the UPA Security Service.

The materials should be of special interest to residents of Ostrozhetsky Raion, Rivne Oblast (now Mlynivsky). Written neatly and clearly, the notebook contains a list of families that were exiled to Siberia from 1940 to 1948. The surname and first name of each member of the family, their year of birth, the property belonging to the family (land, house, cattle and animals) and reasons for their exile are meticulously described.

In another notebook there is a list of arrested persons and also detailed information about them. The names of people who voluntarily surrendered to the Soviet authorities are also recorded.

There is also a 117-page report from Kosiv Raion, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast containing a list of OUN personnel, protocols about the Soviet Ministry of State Security pillaging of villages and towns, the organization of collective farms, and the names of Soviet “extermination” battalions.

http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Lists of families exiled to Siberia from 1940 to 1948

“There are many reports. We don’t understand why there are no materials from Ternopil Oblast. However, this is an extraordinary find! Apparently, these materials were delivered to the leaders of the Ukrainian underground movement.” says Ruslan Zabily.

Museum researchers also discovered a few 1948 editions of the children’s underground illustrated magazines – Little Friends (̦ ڦ). They contain poems for children, stories, puzzles, riddles and even games, but all of them have a historical theme composed specially for children, who are constantly reminded to “speak their native language”.

http://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Little Friends (̦ ڦ)

Several slogans are printed on the cover of the children’s magazines: “Freedom for all nations! Freedom for each man and woman! For an independent and unified Ukrainian State!” These slogans were included in the 1947-1948 editions when the magazine was published by Ukrainian refugees in Germany. Before the Second World War, the magazine was published in Lviv, and during the war years, in 1940-1944, in Krakow, Poland.

http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
“The first syllable is a number, (tri-)
The second is what we have in our mouth. (zub-tooth)
So, can you guess the word now?
Yes, it’s our coat of arms as such.” (tryzub – trident)

Advice for parents

In the 1950s, Ukrainian underground fighters were dedicated to educating children and young people, so they issued a book – Guidelines for Parents in Educating Children – on how to advise children and teens and protect them from Soviet propaganda, media, school, and institutions.

For example, parents are advised: “to tell the children that Russians are not our older brothers, and neither are they our guardians or liberators. Russian Bolsheviks are enemies of the Ukrainian people; they are exploiters and oppressors!”; “to explain to the children that the Pioneers, Komsomol, and other Bolshevik organizations can harm our people; they want to brainwash our children, make them obedient tools in the hands of our enemies – the Bolshevik Party. Their aim is to separate us”; “to teach the children how they should act toward Bolshevism and Bolsheviks. Don’t trust the Bolsheviks, avoid them at all costs. Young adults must not become close to or marry a Bolshevik. Don’t speak Russian, don’t greet each other in Russian or Bolshevik style”; “to explain to them what damage and crimes the Bolsheviks are perpetrating against the Ukrainian nation”; “to teach them how to act in Bolshevik schools; and “to explain what Bolshevik propaganda really means”.

http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Left – Guidelines for Parents in Educating Children; right – How to Behave Toward Russians

“Questions raised back in the 1950s are so relevant to all Ukrainians today… and even more so if we consider the war with Russia and the power and influence of Russian propaganda. What I mean to say is that these underground soldiers and partisans wanted to teach Ukrainians how to be Ukrainian. Don’t act in a way that you wouldn’t want to see your children emulating either within the family or in a group, stay together and be unanimous in condemning evil deeds – this was their advice to parents. If these materials were discovered in a private house, NKVD authorities would have swooped down and rounded up everyone in the area! After all, these publications were closely connected to the Ukrainian underground movement!” stressed Ruslan Zabily.

Important reports and documents

Among the materials there are many books and documents about Ukraine written by contemporaries – Our Attitude Toward the Russian People, The Concept of an Independent Ukraine, as well as reprints from The Revolutionary Propagandist (1949) and the satirical magazine Khrin.

http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Concept of an Independent Ukraine and Basic Tendency for the Political Development of the Modern World

Regional reports drawn up during the revolutionary underground years are also of great interest for future studies of the history of the Ukrainian liberation movement.

“There are a lot of reports and documents from different regions of Western Ukraine, except for Ternopil Oblast – for example, publications by the Ukrainian nationalist command – Propaganda and Information Centre, several copies of the underground magazine – Revolutionary Propagandist, which is especially valuable because it has lots of written comments. There are instructions for investigators of the UPA Security Service, how to organize internal documentation, what materials to collect, how to process them and fill in protocols.” explains Ruslan Zabily.

http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Satirical magazine KHRIN

All documents submitted to the Museum Prison on Lonskoho will be digitized and restored. This will be another precious discovery left behind by OUN and UPA soldiers that will allow historians and researchers to compile thorough investigations of Ukrainian underground activities during the Soviet period. By burying thousands of archival materials almost 70 years ago, Ukrainian revolutionary fighters obviously understood that such documents would be needed for future generations in order to better understand Ukrainian history.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Source: Radio Liberty
Old UPA docs reveal revolutionary activities in Soviet Ukraine in 1950s -Euromaidan Press |
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 18th August 2017, 13:44
Hannia Hannia is offline
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Hannia will become famous soon enough
Old UPA docs reveal revolutionary activities in Soviet Ukraine in 1950s
EUROMAIDAN PRESS Halyna Tereshchuk 2017/08/15 - 23:10

http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten..._feature-3.jpg
Lists of Ukrainian families exiled to Siberia from 1940 to 1948

A “digger” recently found a large can (milk churn) containing UPA archival materials in Yanivsky forest near Lviv. The contents were transferred to the Director of the National Museum “Prison on Lontskoho” to be stored in the archives of the Liberation Movement Research Centre. The last document dates back to 1951, indicating that the archives have been in the ground for 66 years. Among the materials is valuable information about the activities of the Ukrainian underground in 1948-1951, many printed publications and, for the first time, a children’s magazine that was published by the underground movement in the 1940s.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The container has a number – 8809, and a date – 1946. The Soviet government purposely numbered and dated all containers as NKVD officers were fully aware that Ukrainian underground fighters used them to hide their documents and bury them in nearby forests. If milk cooperatives failed to present the right number of milk churns, then some workers would probably be suspected of cooperating with the UPA. UPA soldiers often set fire to local stables and buildings, taking the churns with them so that no one would be arrested by the NKVD.

http://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433

Thanks to the sandy soil in Yanivsky forest, the can was very well preserved although the materials were slightly damp. Almost all the documents are legible and dated between 1948 and the first half of 1951, covering Lviv, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblasts, and part of Chernivtsi Oblast. The Director of the “Prison on Lontskoho”, historian Ruslan Zabily, believes that the archives were brought in from different regions to Lviv Oblast, probably for the UPA Security Service.

The materials should be of special interest to residents of Ostrozhetsky Raion, Rivne Oblast (now Mlynivsky). Written neatly and clearly, the notebook contains a list of families that were exiled to Siberia from 1940 to 1948. The surname and first name of each member of the family, their year of birth, the property belonging to the family (land, house, cattle and animals) and reasons for their exile are meticulously described.

In another notebook there is a list of arrested persons and also detailed information about them. The names of people who voluntarily surrendered to the Soviet authorities are also recorded.

There is also a 117-page report from Kosiv Raion, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast containing a list of OUN personnel, protocols about the Soviet Ministry of State Security pillaging of villages and towns, the organization of collective farms, and the names of Soviet “extermination” battalions.

http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Lists of families exiled to Siberia from 1940 to 1948

“There are many reports. We don’t understand why there are no materials from Ternopil Oblast. However, this is an extraordinary find! Apparently, these materials were delivered to the leaders of the Ukrainian underground movement.” says Ruslan Zabily.

Museum researchers also discovered a few 1948 editions of the children’s underground illustrated magazines – Little Friends (̦ ڦ). They contain poems for children, stories, puzzles, riddles and even games, but all of them have a historical theme composed specially for children, who are constantly reminded to “speak their native language”.

http://i2.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Little Friends (̦ ڦ)

Several slogans are printed on the cover of the children’s magazines: “Freedom for all nations! Freedom for each man and woman! For an independent and unified Ukrainian State!” These slogans were included in the 1947-1948 editions when the magazine was published by Ukrainian refugees in Germany. Before the Second World War, the magazine was published in Lviv, and during the war years, in 1940-1944, in Krakow, Poland.

http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
“The first syllable is a number, (tri-)
The second is what we have in our mouth. (zub-tooth)
So, can you guess the word now?
Yes, it’s our coat of arms as such.” (tryzub – trident)

Advice for parents

In the 1950s, Ukrainian underground fighters were dedicated to educating children and young people, so they issued a book – Guidelines for Parents in Educating Children – on how to advise children and teens and protect them from Soviet propaganda, media, school, and institutions.

For example, parents are advised: “to tell the children that Russians are not our older brothers, and neither are they our guardians or liberators. Russian Bolsheviks are enemies of the Ukrainian people; they are exploiters and oppressors!”; “to explain to the children that the Pioneers, Komsomol, and other Bolshevik organizations can harm our people; they want to brainwash our children, make them obedient tools in the hands of our enemies – the Bolshevik Party. Their aim is to separate us”; “to teach the children how they should act toward Bolshevism and Bolsheviks. Don’t trust the Bolsheviks, avoid them at all costs. Young adults must not become close to or marry a Bolshevik. Don’t speak Russian, don’t greet each other in Russian or Bolshevik style”; “to explain to them what damage and crimes the Bolsheviks are perpetrating against the Ukrainian nation”; “to teach them how to act in Bolshevik schools; and “to explain what Bolshevik propaganda really means”.

http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Left – Guidelines for Parents in Educating Children; right – How to Behave Toward Russians

“Questions raised back in the 1950s are so relevant to all Ukrainians today… and even more so if we consider the war with Russia and the power and influence of Russian propaganda. What I mean to say is that these underground soldiers and partisans wanted to teach Ukrainians how to be Ukrainian. Don’t act in a way that you wouldn’t want to see your children emulating either within the family or in a group, stay together and be unanimous in condemning evil deeds – this was their advice to parents. If these materials were discovered in a private house, NKVD authorities would have swooped down and rounded up everyone in the area! After all, these publications were closely connected to the Ukrainian underground movement!” stressed Ruslan Zabily.

Important reports and documents

Among the materials there are many books and documents about Ukraine written by contemporaries – Our Attitude Toward the Russian People, The Concept of an Independent Ukraine, as well as reprints from The Revolutionary Propagandist (1949) and the satirical magazine Khrin.

http://i0.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Concept of an Independent Ukraine and Basic Tendency for the Political Development of the Modern World

Regional reports drawn up during the revolutionary underground years are also of great interest for future studies of the history of the Ukrainian liberation movement.

“There are a lot of reports and documents from different regions of Western Ukraine, except for Ternopil Oblast – for example, publications by the Ukrainian nationalist command – Propaganda and Information Centre, several copies of the underground magazine – Revolutionary Propagandist, which is especially valuable because it has lots of written comments. There are instructions for investigators of the UPA Security Service, how to organize internal documentation, what materials to collect, how to process them and fill in protocols.” explains Ruslan Zabily.

http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433
Satirical magazine KHRIN

All documents submitted to the Museum Prison on Lonskoho will be digitized and restored. This will be another precious discovery left behind by OUN and UPA soldiers that will allow historians and researchers to compile thorough investigations of Ukrainian underground activities during the Soviet period. By burying thousands of archival materials almost 70 years ago, Ukrainian revolutionary fighters obviously understood that such documents would be needed for future generations in order to better understand Ukrainian history.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Source: Radio Liberty
Old UPA docs reveal revolutionary activities in Soviet Ukraine in 1950s -Euromaidan Press |
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 25th September 2017, 20:41
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Raoul Wallenberg Case: Establishing Historical Truth Is A Marathon, Lawyer Says
RADIO FREE EUROPE Robert Coalson Sept 24, 2017

https://gdb.rferl.org/E074B9CB-9FFB-...w1023_r1_s.jpg
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. He died in a Soviet prison.

Relatives of wartime Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg have pledged to appeal a Moscow district court decision that denied their demand that Russia's secret services release documents related to Wallenberg's death while in the custody of Josef Stalin's secret police.

Lawyer Ivan Pavlov, who is representing the Wallenberg family in the case, told RFE/RL that the court's decision last week was "unlawful and cynical" and said the plaintiffs will appeal the decision through the Russian courts and, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights.

"Cases involving the search for historical truth -- if you'll allow a sports metaphor -- are not sprints but marathons," Pavlov said. "We knew from the beginning that we would have to run a long distance and we prepared for that. We are ready."

Moscow's Mechchansky District Court on September 18 rejected a request from the Wallenberg family to compel the Federal Security Service (FSB) -- as the successor to the Soviet-era KGB and other security agencies -- to provide uncensored documents that could shed light on Wallenberg's fate, which remains one of the enduring mysteries of the postwar period.

The court accepted the FSB's argument that revealing the documents would violate the privacy of other people mentioned in them. The FSB also argued that it was not technically the successor agency to the Stalin-era secret police, even though it controls the archives of those agencies.

Wallenberg was Sweden's special envoy to Budapest during World War II. Hungary was a German ally but was nonetheless occupied by the Nazis in 1944. Over the next year, virtually the entire Jewish population was rounded up and sent to death camps. Wallenberg is credited with saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews by issuing them passports and sheltering them in Swedish diplomatic buildings. When the Red Army arrived in Budapest, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviet secret police together with his driver, Vilmos Langfelder, on January 17, 1945, and taken to Moscow. What happened after that remains a mystery.

In 1957, the Soviets said Wallenberg died of "a heart attack" in the police prison on Lubyanka Square on July 17, 1947. His body was supposedly "cremated without autopsy." In 1989, the Soviet Union returned Wallenberg's passport and other personal possessions to Sweden, saying they had been found during the remodeling of a storeroom.

A Russian government investigation headed by Vyacheslav Nikonov -- the grandson of Stalinist Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov -- determined that Wallenberg was executed in 1947, a version that was confirmed by former Soviet Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev in 2000.

The same year, the Soviet government officially "rehabilitated" Wallenberg and Langfelder as "victims of political repression." Periodically, unconfirmed reports of sightings of Wallenberg by former Soviet gulag prisoners have emerged, many of which were collected by legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

According to Canadian human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler in 1990, two men had reported seeing Wallenberg at a Soviet prison between Moscow and Leningrad as late as November 1987. Cotler was part of an international investigation into the Wallenberg case that was promised access to the Stalin-era secret-police documents, but never received them.

Russian journalist Aleksei Kartsev told The New York Times in 1990 -- using words that call to mind Pavlov's metaphor of the sprint and the marathon -- that trying to get documents from the KGB "is a process of water wearing away stone."

During that 1990 probe, however, one fascinating document emerged indicating that Langfelder was interrogated on July 23, 1945, and that the same day another prisoner was questioned who was only identified as "Prisoner No. 7." Wallenberg's relatives believe that Wallenberg was this mysterious prisoner and that the document proves he was alive at least six days after the Soviets said he had died.

Pavlov told RFE/RL he was certain the FSB archives contain information about Wallenberg's fate.

"Just like now, in the 1940s, remand prisons were regimented institutions where any movement of a detainee was documented and a note was made in the appropriate logbooks," Pavlov said. "This happens when a detainee is moved from one cell to another, when they are taken for questioning, when they are moved from one prison to another."

The FSB refused to release those log entries, citing the privacy rights of "third parties."

Pavlov said the legal protection of personal confidentiality expires in the 2020-22 period.

"But I am sure that by then the FSB will think up some new excuses to avoid making the information public," Pavlov said.

What is missing now is what has been missing from the beginning, Pavlov said -- "political will."

"The position of the FSB and the government is never to give anything in general," Pavlov said. "They want to keep all information that relates to our historical memory in an atmosphere of total secrecy, no matter what. Because if you give out even just a little, it just leads to requests for further information and, in the end, you have to open up all the archives -- something that I'm sure our secret services would like to avoid."
https://www.rferl.org/a/raoul-wallen.../28753923.html
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Old 25th October 2017, 15:43
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Former UPA liason officer receives copy of her criminal case as recorded by Soviet NKVD
EUROMAIDAN PRESS Radio Liberty Halyna Tereshchuk 2017/10/24 - 18:01

http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...10/Feature.jpg
Olha Olkiv and her son Volodymyr

On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) celebrated on October 14, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) handed copies of criminal cases to two former liason officers: 97-year-old Olha Ilkiv from Lviv and 94-year-old Anastasiya Zakydalska-Petrychkovych from Boryslav. Both women were arrested by the NKVD and brutally interrogated in Lviv and Drohobych prisons. Seventy years later, they will be able to examine the materials of the criminal case against them and read about their lives, as described by the NKVD.

http://i1.wp.com/euromaidanpress.com...size=650%2C433

97-year-old Olha Ilkiv, accompanied by her son Volodymyr, arrived at the SBU headquarters in Lviv to pick up three volumes of copies of her criminal case. Olha was arrested by the NKVD in 1950 and incarcerated in the Prison on Lontskoho.

“This is a clear victory over the man who beat me and tortured me. His name was Lavrenko. He was a butcher who forced me to swallow psychotropic substances that aren’t allowed anywhere… even in prisons. Maybe that’s why I’m partially blind. There were no breaks from this routine; there wasn’t even time to eat the meager rations that we were given. They brought us into a room, then took us out, but we were constantly observed through a little hole in the door. Yes, I suffered a lot, but I didn’t commit suicide, and that’s very important. I think someone somewhere was praying for me…. Lavrenko told me that I would never see my children again; they’d been taken away. And even if I found them, they’d probably spit in my face…. Yes, that’s what he told me. I replied that I’d go from house to house, from village to village, until I found them.”

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When Olha worked as liason officer to UPA commander Roman Shukhevych, she kept her son and daughter safely hidden. She was arrested in 1950 and sent to the Prison on Lontskoho in Lviv. Her children were taken away and placed in an orphanage by the Soviet authorities. Their surname was changed to Boyko. Olga Ilkiv was incarcerated for 25 years. During her imprisonment, she never betrayed her comrades. Her interrogators told her where her children had been sent, and she began searching for them as soon as she was released. Olha remembers that at first her son and daughter were hostile, because Soviet propaganda had brainwashed them, telling them that the OUN and UPA were criminal organizations.

“They’ve always tried to steal everything from us, but we’ve always survived… This is our destiny. We have a big country and rich productive soil, but we’ve always been surrounded by enemies.” remarks Olha Ilkiv.

Biographies written by the NKVD

The criminal case against Anastasiya Zakydalska is recorded in one volume, a copy of which was transmitted to her daughter Nataliya. Anastasiya is 94 years old and has difficulty moving around and travelling. She was arrested in August 1944 and charged with working for the UPA. She was labeled as “a member of the OUN-UPA gang”.

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“My mother was a nurse and liaison officer. She was incarcerated in Drohobych prison and treated like a common criminal. She was a pretty young girl with long braided hair. She spent 25 years in exile, mostly in Inta, Komi Republic She returned to her home in Boryslav, Ukraine in 1983. Despite the fact that Russian was spoken everywhere and we were in an aggressive Russian-speaking environment, our parents taught us Ukrainian, as well as Ukrainian history and traditions.” says Nataliya Zakydalska.

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When Olha Ilkiv was asked whether she’d let her son read the criminal report, she replied:

“What do you think those bastards wrote about us? They reported whatever they wanted, but definitely not what we said …”

However, for historians studying the twentieth century, including OUN and UPA activities, it is very important that these two women and other survivors compare existing records and historical documents. Historian Mykhailo Romanyuk, who has studied the archival documents of the SBU General Directorate in Lviv Oblast, underlines that all criminal cases stored in the archives are important as they are part of family histories that help scholars understand the Ukrainian national liberation movement.

“These cases should be verified with other documents. We’re trying to find and compare three sources: criminal cases stored in archives, documents drawn up by the occupation authorities, and partisan documents and memoirs. They’re important to all concerned families as they’ll be able to evaluate and compare all the materials. The criminal case against Olha Ilkiv provides us with a lot of biographical material… where she lived and studied, her activities in the ranks of the resistance movement, etc.” explains Mykhailo Romanyuk.

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60,000 archive materials related to the activities of the Soviet regime in the 20th century are listed in the SBU archives in Lviv Oblast. These are people, who, like Olha Ilkiv and Anastasiya Zakydalska, were rehabilitated in 1991. However, there are more than 8,000 cases concerning people who have yet to be rehabilitated by Ukraine.

“More and more rehabilitation processes are gradually beginning in Ukraine. The SBU will also be an active participant in the process of reviewing cases involving UPA soldiers, who, for one reason or another, have not been included in the lists of rehabilitated persons. Today, we’ve symbolically handed over two cases. We want to dispel the myths created by the Soviet regime and supported by the current Kremlin regime so that Ukrainians will finally know the truth about what took place in Ukraine. It’s important to understand history so that the same mistakes and tragic events will never happen again.” says

In the 1940s and 1950s, when Olha Ilkiv, Anastasiya Zakydalska, and other UPA activists, young and dedicated women, were arrested and tortured, no one could imagine that in a few decades they would receive a copy of their interrogations. These reports reflect the stories of their lives, but “written by the enemy’s hand” and rather far from the truth, according to both women.

“We did not give in then, and we will never give in!” concludes Olha Ilkiv.

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Olha Ilkiv wearing the embroidered shirt she sewed in prison from prison sheets. She treasures this memento and wears it only on important holidays and celebrations.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Source: Radio Liberty
Former UPA liason officer receives copy of her criminal case as recorded by Soviet NKVD -Euromaidan Press |
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Prisoners of state secrecy: How Russia aborted its “archival revolution”
EUROMAIDAN PRESS Ihor Vynokurov 2018/07/25 - 13:27

This article is the third part of “An email to the realm of shadows,” Euromaidan Press’ series on the post-Soviet archives in Ukraine and Russia.
After the Euromaidan Revolution, Ukraine experienced nothing short of an “archival revolution.” The historical archives of the Soviet secret service, the KGB, which was one of the enforcers of the oppressive Soviet regime, were opened up for public access. However, this progressive step is not insured from pitfalls, as the unhappy but informative experience of Russia before Putin suggests. It is particularly important given that Ukrainians, like every other nation, need a frank discussion about both their victimization and on assuming some measure of responsibility for a number of past tragedies. Russia’s experience shows that the opening of previously classified KGB archives is irreversible only provided that the old triangle of stereotypes – of a “wise” official guardian in charge of documentary treasures, “too curious” researchers, and the “unenlightened” audience—is abandoned. Otherwise, history can be easily re-appropriated by the state and used to revive authoritarian structures.

In the early 90s, there was much hope in Russia that the historical archives inherited from the Soviet era would allow the voices of those who had and had not survived the years of repression to be heard, and the panorama of the 70-year communist rule would be seen without cuts and omissions. Researchers eagerly welcomed stunning changes in the access to previously unknown historical documents, calling them an “archival revolution.” The historian Nikita Petrov from the Russian Memorial Society describes the shock of the staff of the KGB archives in the vicinity of Moscow when they first saw him, an outsider wearing jeans, in the repository where not every KGB officer had been let in before.

Communist Party archives were indeed included in the Russian national archival system and made available to the public. In other state archives, the access to millions of files was radically liberalized, and vast amounts of documents, particularly on the Stalinist period, were published and translated into foreign languages. These changes underpinned a new wave of extensive research in the history of the Soviet era.

Abby Smith from the Library of Congress, which held the “Revelations from the Russian Archives” exhibit in 1992, writes that making the formerly secret documents of Lenin, Stalin, and their successors public was meant to somehow desacralize them:

“Just as the Bolsheviks had unearthed bodies of locally venerated saints in the 1920s and revealed that they had been physically corrupted, so this exhumation of the most intimate artifacts of party members, such as their party cards, the records of their real estate holdings, and their payoffs to failed revolutionaries in the West, was intended to secularize the grip they held over the imagination of the Russian citizen.”

After being presented in Washington, the exhibit was planned to open in Moscow. But this never happened.

And more generally, the “archival revolution” remained unfinished. While in August 1991 Russian President Yeltsin used his archival decrees to challenge the power structures of the Soviet Union that were complicit in the putsch, this motivation evaporated once the USSR was dead and all the executive institutions within the borders of the new Russia were subject to her president.
Although the 1991 presidential decree on transferring the files of the communist secret police to the public system has never been cancelled under Yeltsin or Putin, the archives of the KGB and other special services, as well as Soviet ministries of defense, interior and foreign affairs, remain (with little exceptions) in the possession of institutions that are successors to the Soviet ones.

Thanks to this, their current disponents unilaterally decide whom to admit inside “their own” archival “sanctuaries.”

Moreover, even the documents of the Communist Party did not automatically become available to the users despite the party itself being banned and dissolved. Instead, a 30-year term of secrecy was introduced for them.

“Can you imagine all the fascist documentation being classified as secret for some thirty years after the defeat of Nazi Germany?” former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky indignantly asked. “The new Germany did not conceal others’ secrets. If you were seriously breaking with the past, you would hardly hide it.”

Based on Yeltsin’s decree of January 1992 restoring the obligation of Soviet state secrets, the former archives of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party (the institution was known after the acronym TsKhSD in the 90s) was forbidden to hand any documents concerning Moscow’s foreign affairs after 1961 to its readers. Next year, TsKhSD director was fired after Harvard fellow Stephen Morris published the evidence showing that in the early 70s, the communist government of North Vietnam had concealed the real number of American prisoners of war, hoping to use them for political bargaining. The source of these revelations was a document Morris discovered occasionally in TsKhSD, while studying a different topic. A sensitive topic of supposed “ghosts” of America’s then longest war resulted in an investigation on the part of the U.S. government and all-out denial on the Vietnamese part. Senator John Kerry (future Secretary of State under President Obama) compared the document to a “smoking gun.”

Anatoly Prokopenko, who was mentioned in the previous part in the context of Raoul Wallenberg’s tragic fate, was appointed a new TsKhSD director after the incident. He hastened to declare the necessity of a “more restrictive approach” to the Soviet-era archival heritage. Ironically, Prokopenko was known for his liberal views on the archival field and calls for its freeing from the bond of secrecy. During the perestroika, he had played one of key roles in uncovering the long-denied truth about the other prisoners of war: the Polish officers massacred by the NKVD in Katyn in 1940. But the “Vietnamese story” taught him a lesson. Talking to the American historian Mark Kramer in 1993, Prokopenko paradoxically stated that the declassification of documents “doesn’t mean people should be allowed to look at them.”

In 1993, a highly contradictory law on state secrets was introduced in Russia. On the one hand, it prohibited to limitat access to the documents directly related to the Soviet repression. On the other hand, the issue of declassifying the rest of the papers of the state and Party organs that lacked institutional successors was confided to the interdepartmental Commission for State Secrets. The Commission was created at the end of 1995, when the First Chechen War was in full swing. It contained the officials from Russian special services, the Ministry of Defense, and General Staff of the Armed Forces… but no member represented the archives.

In addition, if a Soviet-time institution had a Russian successor, then (according to the law “On information” also adopted in 1995) the latter had the power to choose which documents should be made available. This de facto allowed to avoid their declassification even after the 30-year period expired.

“Russian officials,” the British historian Robert Davies sums up in his 1997 book Soviet History in the Yeltsin Era, “generally continued to be influenced by the Soviet ethos of secrecy, which […] set the bounds of confidentiality far wider than in most other advanced countries.”

You are welcome to send a request regarding the Soviet repressive bodies, their victims, and agents, to Ukraine’s SBU archives at arhivsbu@ssu.gov.ua. Now it is not the state information—it is yours. Prisoners of state secrecy: How Russia aborted its “archival revolution” |Euromaidan Press |
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