RIGA - In its final reading, Parliament supported amendments to a bill allowing for the publication of KGB archives in the official newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis on March 1, 2007. The amendments were passed on Oct. 26 with 53 votes for and 27 against. Seven lawmakers abstained.
The People's Party, some lawmakers from New Era, For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, Latvia's First Party and some lawmakers from the Greens and Farmers Union and independent lawmakers Maris Gulbis and Aleksandrs Kirsteins voted for the bill.
The leftist party Harmony Center, For Human Rights in United Latvia, Latvia's Socialist Party, four New Era lawmakers, one ZZS lawmaker and independent lawmaker Janis Jurkans voted against the bill. Five New Era lawmakers and one ZZS representative abstained from voting.
Parliament rejected two proposals; one by Harmony Center lawmaker Valerijs Agesins against releasing the information from the former Soviet secret police files, and a second by Kirsteins, who was against postponing publication of the files until March 1 as it would give another opportunity for the president to send the bill back to Parliament.
Kirsteins said he was sure that President Vaira Vike-Freiberga would return the bill. He also said that the president has been pictured with people who were possibly KGB agents, which explains why she does not want to publish the information.
Agesins said that, by publishing the KGB files, the state wants to distract people's attention from social problems and start another witch-hunt. He added that the released information might threaten the former agents' security, emphasizing that the archives were incomplete and contained information only from the 1980s.
People's Party lawmaker Mareks Seglins said there were no legal obstacles for publishing the KGB files, adding that is was a sensibly discussed political decision. Seglins also admitted that Latvia did not have complete KGB archives.
Initially, the government had planned to publish the KGB files in Latvijas Vestnesis on Nov. 1, 2006.
However, this date did not provide enough time for promulgating the law and Indulis Zalitis, head of the Center for Documenting Totalitarian Consequences, asked four an extension to prepare the documents. Parliament's legal committee supported Zalitis' request and decided to postpone publication until March 1, 2007.
Under the bill on the publication of KGB archive information, which the Latvian president has sent back to lawmakers for revision, it is planned to publish the following information about 4,500 former KGB agents in Latvia -- name, surname, father's name, date and place of birth, code name, the date of recruiting, the position held at the time of recruitment and the date of discharge from the KGB, if applicable.
The possibility of opening the KGB files left behind in Latvia after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 has been discussed 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' information.