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Rights Group of the Week: International Memorial Society

posted 28 Nov 2016, 01:31 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Nov 2016, 01:31 ]
On 23 November 2016 the International Memorial Society published on its website a database containing personal data on 40,000 officials of the NKVD (the predecessor to the Soviet KGB). The archive contains records for the years 1935-1939, the period known as the Great Terror. As The Moscow Times reports, NKVD staff orders, containing information such as dates of employment and dismissal, assignments, and information on state awards, have been the main source for the archive, supplemented by biographical information available from other sources. Shortly after its launch, Vedomosti reported that access to the site was no longer possible, prompting concerns that it may have been blocked. However, Vedomosti reported, Arseny Roginsky, chair of the board of International Memorial Society, told Interfax: 'The database is overloaded, we are working on getting it back online.'

International Memorial Society, which has spent 15 years developing the database, notes: 'The archive will be useful to those interested in Soviet history. In particular, with the help of this resource it will become possible to identify a large number of the officers of state security of the period of the Great Terror, until now only known by their family names (as a rule, without indication of their first names and patronymics) from their signatures in cases they investigated, or from references in memoirs.'

RFE/RL has reported that descendants of Stalin era state security officers have asked the government to close down the newly opened database: 'A handful of the descendants have written an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, himself a former agent of the Soviet KGB, asking him to close down the database, Russian media reported on November 27. [...] The descendants justified their request by saying they fear "that the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren [of the agents] might be the targets of revenge for the sake of repressed ancestors".'

'Сайт «Мемориала» отключился после публикации данных о сотрудниках НКВД,' Vedomosti, 23 November 2016
'Справочник о чекистах эпохи Большого террора теперь доступен в интернете,' International Memorial Society, 23 November 2016
'Russian NGO Publishes Stalin-Era NKVD Personnel Database,' The Moscow Times, 24 November 2016
'Descendants Of Stalin-Era Secret Police Seek Closure Of Database,' RFE/RL, 28 November 2016