"For irreversible changes we need implementation of memory policy, not just a change of positions"

Panel discussion “Why is the reconciliation with past important for democratic future?” was held in Kyiv with participation of historians and experts from the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine.

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Director of the Archives of Security Service of Ukraine Andriy Kohut said that the open society development is impossible without rethinking and revaluation of totalitarian past.

Ігор Кулик, Андрій Когут

Igor Kulyk, Andriy Kohut

“When we talk about memory policy – it is not about past, it is about future. The changing of society from the closed type, like it was in the Soviet Union, to the open is not automatic. It is not enough to change regime to occurred changes. It is not enough to change government and positions, we need implementation of a policy“, — said Andrii Kohut.

Ivan Patryliak, Olena Khalimon, Ihor Kulyk, Andriy Kohut

Member of the Board at the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory Toomas Hiio told, that the archives in Estonia were opened for everyone since the end of 1980s, because people had to turn to archives to obtain documentary confirmation of property ownership, they have the right to get back.

"In July 1992 adopted an oath for civil servants that individual has not cooperated with the KGB, has not served in the Soviet army, etc. In February 1995 the registration procedure is designed for individuals who served or collaborated with the state security or military forces who occupied the Republic of Estonia. Names of non-registered people were published in newspapers. Estonia also condemned several people who participated in the deportations of Estonians or suppressing the Resistance movement ‘forest brothers’ " — said Thomas Hiio.

Pavel Žáček, Andriy Kohut, Toomas Hiio

Main Specialist at the Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw, and Lecturer at the Academy of Warfare Franciszek Dabrowski estimates lustration in Poland as unsatisfactory: "Only a handful of the most dangerous criminals have been punished. Communist dictator Wojciech Jaruzelski could not be brought to justice for a long time ".

Head of Department, Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance Ihor Kulyk said that according to the law "About government cleaning" lustration is the basis for cooperation with the Soviet secret services: regular workers; covert agents of the KGB of the USSR. Soviet and other republics General Intelligence Agency, the Defense Ministry of the USSR.

Pavel Žáček, Toomas Hiio, Franciszek Dabrowski

"The problem with the law is that the information is divided into many archives and is unstructured. The term of inspection is limited in just one month, and the count of people for verification - around one million officials" , — said the official.

Igor Kulyk also said that Ukraine has 150 kilometers of documents KGB and other intelligence agencies - about 3.8 million cases. They should be transferred from the departmental archives to the new archive at the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.

Consultant Ukrainian Institute of National Memory Elena Khalimon reminded that the mission of Ukrainian Institute of National Memory - the formation of social immunity against human rights violations: "Where the victims are remembered, survivors are protected".

The event was organized by Czech Institute CEVRO in cooperation with Centre for Research on the Ukrainian Liberation Movement and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv with support of the National Endowment for Democracy

In 2014 was restored free access to the declassified documents from 2008-2010 of the former Soviet secret service - The Emergency Committee - The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs - State Security Committee of the USSR stored in the archives of the Security Service of Ukraine. Stable access to these materials should be guaranteed to everybody according to the laws of Ukraine and Recommendation № R (2000) 13 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on a European Policy on Access to Archives, which is an integral feature of democracy, provides the opportunity to learn objective elements of your history.

On May 21, 2015 the Law of Ukraine "About access to the archives of the repressive authorities communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991 years" came into force, according to which introduced free access to the archives and transfer them from the Departments to State Archives Branch of Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. The initiators are convinced that this step will not only help to learn more deeply about the past of the country, but will be a guarantee of no returning totalitarian practices in the work of law enforcement bodies and special services of independent Ukraine.

After the fall of communism, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, the Baltic States and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe made available secret documents of punitive organs and of secret police and handed over to civilian agencies - analogues of the Institute of National Remembrance.

Translated by Andriy Gurskyi