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Declassification of Russian Archives Irrational - Official

Paper Documents Flying out of File Cabinets and Forming the Shape of a ManFeb 1 (Interfax) - Russia's existing procedure for declassifying document archives is unacceptable and absurd, the chairman of the presidential council for human rights, Mikhail Fedotov, said in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday.

"We would like to draw the president's attention to the problem of the declassification of document archives. Rosarkhiv (the Russian State Archive) thinks that this work is proceeding at an extremely slow pace due to a shortage of specialists," Fedotov said.

However, even this circumstance "fails to explain why documents addressing the production of, let's say, bombing sights in the 1930s were declassified, but documents linked to the production of condoms during the same period of time remain classified," he said.

"It is impossible to understand this. But what can explain the decision to keep all of the documents issued by the religious affairs committee of the USSR Cabinet classified for another 15 years, while the main part of these cases are reports about the religious situation in the regions submitted by committee representatives. These documents cannot contain any state secrets by definition," Fedotov said.

He proposed transferring all of the document declassification functions to Rosarkhiv, which acts in strict compliance with the law on state secrets.

"In the context of our fight against the totalitarian mindset, we must tell people the truth. By hiding documents, we simply create an excuse to falsify history and to identify modern-day Russia with a totalitarian regime," he said.

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