RIGA – President Vaira Vike-Freiberga has decided not to promulgate the parliamentary bill on making public the former KGB archives passed last week, explaining that lawmakers had failed to spell out the rules for use and publication of information contained in the files.
In her letter to Parliamentary Chairwoman Ingrida Udre, the president said the bill called for unrestricted access to the files on the one hand, but on the other it preserved the 10-year ban on former KGB staff to run in elections.
Vike-Freiberga stressed that the files contained information not only about KGB operations "concerning ideology and repressions against political dissidents" but also about the fight against organized crime, economic crimes and people who were investigating these kind of crimes.
The president said one expert opinion held that only part of the 4,000 or so personal files on KGB agents dealt with individuals who had done "ideological work" for the Soviet secret service, and in about 90 percent of cases the names on the personal files are given without any notes as to the context why the person was included. President Vike-Freiberga stressed in her letter that the public had the right "to find out truth about KGB operations in Latvia," but it was just important to make sure that the public would receive "reliable and authentic information."
Also, no reason was given as to why the election ban on former KGB staff was extended for another 10 years.
The bill, which was sponsored by the People's Party, one of the three parties in the ruling coalition, passed last week, gaining 78 votes in the 101-member assembly.
Aigars Kalvitis, chairman of the People's Party faction in Parliament, would not comment on the president's decision, though he agreed that a procedure should be laid down for use of the KGB archives, the Baltic News Service reported.
Another coalition partner, Latvia's First Party, called for a transition period to decide on making public the KGB documents "in a civilized manner."
The possibility of releasing this information has been raised in Latvia at regular intervals during the past years with some arguing that the evil-doers should be exposed and others questioning the authenticity of the documents and information contained in them.