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FSB Declassifies Archives Dating Back To Period Of Political Reprisals

MOSCOW. July 8 (Interfax) - The Federal Security Service's de- classified archives are accessible to all who seek access to them, Vasily Khristoforov, the head of the FSB's Registers and Archives Department, said.

"Anyone can file a request with the archives, indicating what materials he needs to read and for what purpose," Khristoforov told Interfax.

"The request will be processed and if the materials requested are declassified, they will be made available to the applicant," he said

Last year, 3,500 requests were processed and 1,500 persons were allowed to read archives materials in an open reading room, Khristoforov said.

Private individuals and organizations are free to file their requests with the FSB's Central Archives at 2, Bolshaya Lubyanka, or come to the FSB's reception office at 22, Kuznetsky Most.

Regarding the archives documenting mass political reprisals, Khristoforov said that access to these archives was opened after they were declassified by a 1992 presidential decree.

Since then, official security classification has been removed from laws and regulatory acts, that were passed between the 1920s and the early 1950, and dealt with political reprisals in the former Soviet Union.

The Law on the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Reprisals says that rehabilitated citizens, as well as their relatives and other authorized persons, have the right to read the records of declassified criminal cases.

To prevent incursions into convicted persons' private life, applicants - researchers or journalists - are requested to produce a notarized permit, provided by the convicted person's relatives.

"If details of a person's private life are involved, which should not be made public, we ask the relatives to examine the documents first and then decide whether researchers should be allowed to study them and whether they can be published," Khristoforov said.

"Some unscrupulous authors seek access to declassified archives in search for shady sensations, rather than the truth," he said.

"It is easy to imagine what irreparable moral damage this so-called research work can deal to the relatives of the victim, and, ultimately, to the cause of restoring the truth. It is our duty to rule out such occurrences. The legislation in action gives us this right and even obliges us to do so," said Khristoforov.