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Historians discover secret order to destroy data relating to those imprisoned in the Gulag [TV Rain]

posted 25 Jun 2018, 12:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 Jun 2018, 12:59 ]

8 June 

Source: TV Rain 

Director of the Museum of the History of the GULAG, Roman Romanov, has informed Mikhail Fedotov, chair of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, that, on the basis of a secret instruction of 2014, archive documents containing information on those repressed in the USSR are being destroyed, Kommersant reports.

A letter from Romanov to Fedotov, to which Kommersant gained access, states that people who were trying to find out the fate of their relatives have received replies from the Ministry of Internal Affairs that their individual records have been destroyed.

‘In those cases where a prisoner died or was killed in a camp, their personal details were forwarded for permanent filing. But if an individual was freed, the case notes were destroyed, but a record was preserved in the archive which indicated name, year, and place of birth, transfer between camps, and transfer camps, and also the date of release,’ Romanov told Kommersant. It was Sergei Prudovsky who, this spring, when he was looking for information about an imprisoned peasant, Fedor Chazov, learnt about the destruction of the record cards.

‘I made an enquiry with the Magadan office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They replied that the personal file of the prisoner had been destroyed as early as 1955 in accordance with an order of that time. However, it also became clear that the record card in the archive had been destroyed too,’ Prudovsky told Kommersant. Mikhail Seregin, head of the information centre of the Magadan Ministry of Internal Affairs, in answer to Prudovsky’s query, stated that on 12 February 2014 an instruction, marked ‘for official use only’, was circulated. The document was signed by the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and other departments. It states that record cards of prisoners should be kept ‘until they (the convicted) reach the age of 80’, according to Seregin. According to his information, Fedor Chazov’s record card was destroyed in September 2014.

Prudovsky explained that information about where a prisoner was sent, or about a prisoner’s transfer from one camp to another, is only recorded in the archives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on individual record cards. It is these cards, according to the order, that should be destroyed.

The chair of the Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, told Kommersant that he is looking into the matter. According to him, the preservation of archive materials is ‘of principal significance because it is a means of countering the falsification of history.’ ‘When a document exists it is practically impossible to falsify the details. And where no document exists, then anything can be thought up. So, it’s necessary to preserve, wherever possible, all the documents that relate to that period’, he concluded.

Translated by Mary McAuley