What documents are stored in the Russian archives, and also about why in 30 years the state of it is not declassified, says the historian Nikita Petrov.
Recently the President of Russia Vladimir Putin promised to “shut the mouth” falsifiers of history of great Patriotic and Second world wars with a true historical documents. And to create a center of archive documents and photomaterials.
One of the first in these words of the head of state responded in opposition historian mark Solonin, occupied just the history of the Second World war. Exclaiming “it’s time!” (in his blog on “echo of Moscow”), corned expressed confidence in the state, which for nearly 30 years and did not want to declassify the most important and interesting documents of the Soviet era.
With the correspondent of “Rosbalt” talking to the other opposition historian engaged in “related topics” — the security organs, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of scientific information and educational centre “memorial” Nikita Petrov.
Nikita Vasilyevich, what we have happening with the archives? Because you were “at the forefront” of the long-awaited process of declassification, which was so required during Gorbachev’s perestroika…
— Yes, the desire of the intelligentsia to open the archives has led in 1991, almost immediately after the August coup and the ban of the Communist party, the creation of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation for receipt and transfer of the archives of the CPSU and the KGB to state custody. It was the attempts to introduce the use and storage of documents of the most secret agencies in a civilized and legal way.
The Commission was headed by a famous person, head of Institute of military history, Colonel-General Dmitri Volkogonov. Included in this Commission, as the expert, and your humble servant.
— You were fairly young back then?
— In 1991, I was 34 years old. Until 1988 I worked in the “Memorial”. Here, together with “memorial are” by Arsenii Roginskii and Nikita Ohotin we were experts in this Commission (but in 1992 — and even experts of the constitutional Court of the Russian Federation in the process of reviewing “the case of the CPSU”).
The Commission has ensured that the archives of the CPSU were transferred to gohrana (the party was not successor). And with the KGB archives out a hitch. In fact, the inhibition of the Commission’s work was immediately apparent, it is very long discussed: “what pass? But how?”
From the point of view, even Yeltsin’s state, the subject of the KGB archives was too sensitive. The state didn’t rush to access what’s called intelligence and operational activities.
And in 1993-95, the process was virtually suspended. KGB archives were transferred only part of the archival-investigatory files, and then not everywhere. People could watch archival-investigation files on their relatives who were repressed. But no more.
In August 1993 Volkogonov said that the Commission had fulfilled his role — and the documents of the former KGB, apparently on gohrana us to pass will fail. There was another plan to create a single repository for documents, but money for it at the Russian state did not exist.
— Well, the construction of the new center, put it, really was not. But the archives with their documents… Many historians probably longed for even in basements to dig. What do we have after so many years.
— Are not enough. The materials of the CPSU was largely open, but largely closed. There is plenty of documentary collections, collections which are still available. These are documents of the Supreme bodies of the Soviet power: the Communist party is not just a party but a mechanism of governance.
But the archives of the CPSU and the KGB was at least the focus of public attention. But the archives of agencies such as the Ministry of interior or Ministry of defense, also were not on the state stored in the Rosarkhiv system. They were on the Depository storage of the departments, and nobody raised even the issue of their transfer to gohrana.
If we talk about the Second world war: it is very important to be open to the General headquarters of the Supreme command, the NKVD, NKGB and SMERSH counterintelligence. So, in the apical part of the military documents are still closed. Moreover, the defence does not transmit their archives to gohrana, but the question is never raised.
Central archive of the Ministry of defense (TSAMO) said: “We are the majority of archival documents declassified”. Is it true? Partly — Yes. Documents the grass-roots military organizations mostly declassified. But we’re talking about the history of decision-making. And documents of the Supreme bodies of military administration just closed.
A specific example: “all converge” on the figure of Stalin. There is a personal Fund of Stalin documents, which includes orders to people’s Commissariat of defense, and at the Rate VGK, documents of correspondence with the NKVD-MGB, the most important reports of the foreign Ministry. So: of the approximately 1,700 cases inventory number 11 this Fund, which is now kept in the Russian state archive of socio-political history (RGASPI), more than 200 of the most important cases and not disclosed. Open, in fact, small things: drafts of speeches, photographs, some correspondence. And the main documents that we can discover the truth about the strategic planning and Central things remain closed.
— The violation of this legislation?
— Yes, we practically do not observe the laws On “archives” and “About the state secret”. Very good laws on their own. The Statute of secrecy set to 30 years for regular papers and 50 for intelligence. But these deadlines are not met. We don’t see full disclosure of the documents even for the Stalinist period.
— Mark Solonin mentioned another time in 75 years…
— Specify, 75 years — the period for which protected private and family secrets. But this does not mean that the documents secret. Closing the health status, financial situation, loving relationships and the confidentiality of adoption. All! Track records, offences, criminal convictions — this is not a family or personal secret. But archives are also widely interpreted! Ask the archives sometimes the date of death. Answer: this is personal data. Absurd! Nonsense and a disgrace. Moreover, the law “On personal data” to the archival field does not apply.
— What is the biggest secret in the theme of WWII?
— The behavior of the red Army abroad. The issue is extremely sensitive for all archives: and TSAMO, and party. These documents are trying to open. As the documents related to the repressive campaigns carried out by the Soviet authorities in the territories where the Red Army arrived. The imposition of Pro-Soviet orders in these areas — the theme is very unpleasant for the Kremlin. Some documents of 1941 is also closed.
CAMD that is located in Podolsk, established long-term agreements for foreigners who wish to visit the archive. Access to TSAMO for them is difficult even impossible. Here we publish something, we think, exposing certain ruling circles of the Baltic republics or Poland. And historians can’t even come and check in CAMD these data. Maybe there are documents that we to explain something? This is not a civilized approach to work with archives.
— But how did it happen? After 1990-ies called “hungry but free”! So archives it was possible to open?
— You see, in 1993-94, with the centralization of power in the hands of President Boris Yeltsin and his team, the statesmen were growing understanding that we must rely on the power block. And do not hurt him. Why power block “to undress” in their own history?
Yeltsin thought situational and followed the events. What society is waiting for in 1991, he said. And when I realized that to save power and can slow down progress, he looked at it quite indifferently. Around him to the mid-1990s, formed a very different clan, who even began to whisper his idea to cancel the presidential election.
— So be it. Oh, and “pressure from below”? Historians had a vested interest…
— And we have that civil society was the? The community of historians? Do we have the Department of history, RAS raised his voice, demanding a total of declassification of documents of the Soviet period?
Historians, of course, was able to see many documents. It was published a lot of collections. Academics, of course, sought in the archives of his and their topics of interest. For example, Alexandr Fursenko and the head of Afiuni released the most interesting and most important for understanding the Khrushchev era-volume edition of documents of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU 1954-64 years.
I myself, under the auspices of the “Memorial” has published three major reference for the leadership of the security organs. In the former socialist countries, among other things, these enthusiasts were not found. Two similar guide on the party apparatus of the CPSU (b) made by my colleague Sergey Filippov. It is a pity that the Prosecutor’s office and the court system of such enthusiasts and historians is not found, and no such reference no.
There are enthusiasts of military history that make up the biography of the division commander-brigade commanders. But what is interesting: often, these biographies are cut off of 1945, and data on the further movements of these people after the war in CAMD do not give.
Invented a lot of reasons that the researcher did not give the documents. As we had ships with archives! Very much. And often, researchers lose the courts, because the courts always side with the state.
I too have experience the loss of the courts up to the Supreme court of the Russian Federation. He sued the FSB archives because of their refusal to unseal orders that were passed 60 years. The upshot was that the constitutional court gave a correct interpretation of the articles of the law on state secrets, which were incorrectly interpreted by the courts and the lawyers of the FSB. He ruled that the official secrets act applies to documents created prior to its adoption in 1993.
But I have my documents and has not received, and recreated them based on the analysis of related documents from other archives. Often in one archive declassified document in another do not give. But they are two different copies of the same document.
Overall, there has been the most important thing: the break with the Soviet past with the totalitarian state for which the documents must be opened and studied. We must draw lessons from them. But this did not happen.
I think that the President will counsel restraint to be personally involved in historical disputes and, especially, to post on his behalf some article. This is called deliberately to put under criticism. The calls of the head of state — say, we on the basis of archival documents, you’ll prove to the world means only one thing: next will be the manipulative use of history. What we need documents, we will open and show. While others will hide.
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