National archives are the cultural and governmental memory of a nation. They provide a look into the nation’s past—good, bad or top secret. And now with information always at our fingertips, the demand for access to such information has grown at a rapid pace.
In Latvia, demand comes in the form of a new law which would require the national archives to digitize and publish online the records of the Former KGB. Over centuries, Latvia has been a Baltic battle ground between invading Germany and Russia. Following World War II, Latvia became a part of the Soviet Union and was under the auspices of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, better known as the KGB, the Soviet Union domestic security service. It was not until the late 20th century Latvia finally won its independence. However, remnants of the old regimes, like the KGB records, still remain.
While some see this law as promoting governmental transparency and acknowledgement of human rights violations, there are others concerned that people still alive today will be negatively impacted by the release of these documents. There continues to be a negative stigma for individuals believed to have been willing collaborators with the KGB. The current restrictions for access of information in these records will only apply to individuals identified as victims or third parties. This leaves a door wide open for personal information regarding anyone else involved with the KGB being made very public.
Baltic News Network (May 9, 2019) Latvia to publish additional KGB filing system and other documents. Retrieved from:https://bnn-news.com/latvia-to-publish-additional-kgb-filing-system-and-other-documents-200447.
Encyclopedia Britannica (May 30, 2019) Latvia history. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Latvia/History.
Pringle, R. (May 2, 2019) KGB agency, soviet union. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/KGB