Andriy Kogut: Evertything is automatically declassified

Aleksandra Polivanova
26 April 2016

In April 2015 the Supreme Council of Ukraine adopted the law On access to archives of repressive agencies of the communist totalitarian regime in 1917-1991. The director of the archive of the Security Service of Ukraine told us about how this new law has been applied during the last year. 

– Andriy, how was the access to archival information regulated before the enacting of this law?

– Our new law is a special law that regulates the arrangement of citizens’ access to archives from the Soviet times as well as the Intelligence agencies’ handling of these documents. Before this the access to archives was regulated by the law on the national archival fund and other archival institutions that was enacted in the 1990’s, and the archivists themselves had already for a long time been talking about the necessity of a revised version. The old one is a general law that outlines how to work in and with archives, but now we have two laws that regulate the archival work. If the documents refer to the history of Soviet punitive agencies the archival work is carried out on the basis of the new law, while the work with all other documents is carried out on the basis of the law on the national archival fund.


– What law on rehabilitation is now in force in Ukraine?

– The law that is now in force was enacted already during the Soviet times in 1991, before the independency of Ukraine. We are also bringing up the matter of the necessity of a revised version of this law. Such a revision is already prepared, and in addition to this we have prepared a special analysis of the enforcement of this law: what it covers and what it leaves out altogether. Committee hearings or roundtable discussions about human rights should take place during the spring to discuss the fact that a much wider range of people that suffered from the Soviet system should be taken into account.


– If the law on rehabilitations would remain the same as in Russia, would investigative archival files and police dossiers on non-rehabilitated people then be accessible for users today?

– Before the enacting of the law on archives we had the same situation as in Russia regarding the access to files of non-rehabilitated persons. But what was this regulated by? We had some by-laws that clarified how to interpret the law on rehabilitation, and in one of them it said that information about rehabilitated persons is given in a certain way, but nothing at all was said about non-rehabilitated persons. So archivists denied access to files about non-rehabilitated persons since the legislation doesn’t say anything about this. This was one of the arguments for a new law that from an archivist’s point of view is very narrow. Today we have access to all files of Soviet repressive organs, and this access is regulated by the law on access to archives and the law on condemnation of Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes. In the latter law there is a norm that says that the access to information about misdeeds of totalitarian regimes can’t be limited. As a whole the access to archives of the Soviet regime is regulated by an independent law and a few norms in other laws. I think that when a new version of the law on rehabilitation occurs there will also be a special norm regarding the access to archives even though this is already regulated by other laws. In countries with such fresh democracy as Ukraine it is necessary to repeat such things every time separately to ensure that every public official that is going to act in accordance with that particular law won’t have any questions about how to understand it. A complex approach is needed.


– What funds, from what origins, is the archive of the Security Service of Ukraine now made up of?

– Documents from 1917 to 1991 are stored in the archive, and they include all the work of the intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union. In fact there is everything in between documents from Cheka to documents from KGB. We have around 200 000 files, which is close to seven kilometers, that are stored in Kiev, and except for this around 800 000 files at regional departments. Right now it’s hard to say exactly how many because we don’t have any information about the archives in Luhansk Oblast and Donetsk Oblast, they are more or less destroyed. And the archive in Crimea is nowadays not accessible from Ukraine’s territory.


– From where did you get the information that the archives in Luhansk and Donetsk are destroyed?

– There is evidence that Ukrainian soldiers that were captivated were kept in the premises of the former archive. Someone wrote on Facebook that he had seen files from these archives on internet auctions.


– So it was hooliganism? Not that Russian intelligence agencies came and confiscated files?

– I think they neglected to confiscate stuff. I assume that the Russian intelligence agencies came there first and collected what was interesting to them, and then left. And the leftovers are sold by plunderers. However, this is just speculations: a separate investigation has to be made. But I feel quite pessimistic about it.


– Are you planning to leave funds of regional archives of the Security Service of Ukraine where they are or move them to Kiev?

– This question is now being worked out. Most likely the archives will be left in the regions, but moved to departments of the future archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance. It’s possible that it will be decided to move everything to the Kiev archive of this institute. It’s possible that subregional departments will be created, one per a few regions, and then we are going to reason from what’s practical: we could logistically implement this only where is there room for it. The law initials that all documents of repressive organs are open to a full extent for everyone. The law says that the Soviet labeling ”completely secret” is not a classification code that entails limited access, and that it’s not equal to the Ukrainian classification codes taemno (secret) and tselikom taemno (completely secret). According to our law the classifications codes are just graphical markers. The law says that documents of repressive organs have to be handed over from existing institutions that aren’t archival institutions to the archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance. The documents that were handed over to state archives earlier, in the beginning of the 1990’s, remain in the state archives. These documents are in general about rehabilitations and about rehabilitated people and were handed over to State Regional Archives or to the Central Archive in Kiev.


– How do the archive of the Security Service of Ukraine and the archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance correlate to each other?

– We now have a transition period. While the archive of the Institute of National Remembrance is still being created the documents are stored in the archive of the Security Service of Ukraine as before. But as soon as the archive of the Institute will be ready the procedure of handing over documents from the archive of the Security Service of Ukraine, the archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other funds will be begun. The Security Service of Ukraine is according to the law obliged to hand over documents that refer to the time period before 1991 to the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance while documents after 1991 consequently remain in the possession of the Security Service of Ukraine. The archive was already in 2008–2009 during Yushchenko’s time divided into the archive of KGB and the archive of today’s Security Service of Ukraine.


– And how are the crimes committed by intelligence agencies during Yanukovich’s time going to be investigated?

– According to the current legislation. But that’s not on our plate, thank god.


– What mandate does the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance have?

– Their main task is to collect all documents about the crimes committed by the Soviet Union from other institutions. Because it’s not the task of today’s Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Security Service of Ukraine to go through and study documents that relate to KGB, that’s just not their job, right? Secondly, if you talk about the necessity of transforming and reforming the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine according to European standards we don’t want them to be dragging on this tail of KGB. And thirdly, no matter how much we would reform these institutions, the access to their premises will always be limited in one way or another, simply because of the functions of these state agencies. And the entrance to the premises of an archive shouldn’t be limited, the archives have to be moved to other premises – that’s also an important reason for creating a separate archive of the Institute of National Remembrance. And the last thing: we witnessed how the access to archives became more limited and how the domestic politics changed during Yanukovich’s time, even though the legislation didn’t change. To be on the safe side and make sure the access to these documents won’t be dependent on some political changes that may not be connected to archives at all the archive has to be removed from the administration of the Intelligence Agencies. The mandate of the Institute of National Remembrance is to go through these documents and make them publicly available. The archive will gradually be digitalized and accessible in the whole world.


– How many people are now working in the archives of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Institute of National Remembrance?

– Here 60–80 persons are working, and in the archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs there’s in total eight or nine employees, and they don’t manage to process all of the requests that they get and overall with the massive amount of work. About 40 people are working at the institute right now, but the archive will be founded as a separate department of the Institute, and all employees of the archival institution will be professionals.


– How many new employees did you hire during the past year, and how has the organization of the staff changed?

– We got ten new employees, but that was connected to the necessity of carrying out another law: the lustration law. Now the archive is responsible for implementing two laws that both have a quite tight deadline: the first one is the lustration law. Our archive advises citizens who are born before 1973 and have to go through a lustration process. There is thousands of notifications that come from governments institutions and local government bodies. According to this law they have to conduct a lustration check before the end of this year, and we have to give them an answer to whether we found any information about whether some citizen was working or studying at KGB or was cooperating with KGB as an agent (although this is a lot trickier). According to the other archival law we have to finish the initial audit of our archival funds during 2016. So how do we work? We have a science department that carry out the obligations connected to international agreements with other science institutes. We are cooperating with the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, with the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, with a few universities in Germany, with Yad Vashem, with the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and others. Except for this we obviously work a lot with Ukrainian academic and university institutions. The fund department works directly with the funds, there is a department that works with requests on lustrations, a special commission makes audit arrangements and one department works with requests from citizens. Nowadays we register all requests that come both by e-mail as official requests as well as by mail: we handle all of the requests and give an answer. And the amount of requests is steadily growing. That’s how we work.


– How many people work at the department of requests from citizens?

– Around ten.


– And with the requests on lustrations?

– Oh, that’s harder, in practice everyone is working there, because there is a lot of requests.


– Do you have statistics of requests from citizens?

– In 2014, before the law but after Maidan, there were 1783 requests, in 2015 there were 2802, and during the first quarter of 2016 – 969. If you compare this with the first quarter of 2014 (337 requests), the number has actually doubled. 


– From whom do you get more requests, from Ukrainian citizens or from foreigners, maybe from Russians?

– In 2015 there were 240 requests from foreigners and foreign organizations. Unfortunately we don’t have any separate statistics from Russian citizens, but we do get requests from Russia at least once a week.


– And who is handing in the requests? Do people ask for information about themselves or their relatives, or is it more often historians, journalists and directors?

– Every month is different. People ask about themselves very rarely. About a third or half is researchers, the rest is simple citizens that look for information about their relatives or about whatever interests them. From journalists we also get requests, but not that often. In general journalists are interested in some specific dates. Recently there has been many requests about Chernobyl because of the upcoming anniversary.


– Except for sending a request by mail, is it possible to just come to you? Do you have a reading hall?

– There is a reading hall. Unfortunately it isn’t big, eight places in total, and there is a constant queue: you have to sign up for specific times when there are free places in the hall. According to the law the visitors can use cameras, scanners, and any other equipment but without using any flash.


– Do you need a reference to get in to the archive, or can any person who walks by drop in?

– You don’t need any reference, but since the archive is still located in the premises of the Security Service there is a special control by the entry. That is, you write to us and tell us what you are interested in. We see if we can find the looked-for information and tell you when there are free spots in the reading hall. If you are a Ukrainian citizen we just order an access card for you, but if you are a foreigner a certain procedure to get an access card is required. It’s nothing complicated, it just takes more time: this is still the premises of the Intelligence Agency. But this is obviously wrong. It’s wrong that the Security Service was occupied with some scientific projects and was publishing documents. We are publishing documents about the Holodomor for example and get blamed for instrumentalizating the history. But all we want is to make the documents accessible. We are publishing stuff not only about the Holodomor but also about what there is a public demand for. And as long as these documents are stored at the Security Service of Ukraine or at the Ministry of Internal Affairs there will always be reproaching: ”You are an intelligence agency, you are manipulative, you don’t publish everything”. This is also an argument for moving the archive to the Institute. Now there is a paradox, the archive of the Security Service is in practice working as a historical archive. After the move we are going to be completely accessible: you as a citizen of Russia won’t have to wait while we go through all bureaucratic processes.


– For how long does a person wait for an answer to his request?

– According to the legislation we have to give an answer within a month. We try to answer as soon as we found something. But the result is obviously a bit different, depending on how tricky the request is. Sometimes we have to answer that the search is continuing, but in general we manage to do it within one month. In the answer we try to give information about other places where the requested documents could be found: either some online data basis or other archives. Regarding requests about rehabilitated people the case is often that the file was given to the State Archive already during the 80’s or the 90’s and has been accessible all these years, but only now people came up with the idea of looking for them. Then we send over the request to the archive in question and inform the visitor that his request has been sent to the proper address. We try to help as much as we can. 


– There is no procedure of declassifying documents that once became classified? Is everything automatically declassified?

– Yes. Everything is automatically declassified. But as I said an audit is now taking place, and therefor the part of the funds that is now being audited can’t be handed out. Such temporary limitations.


– Are there any limitations associated with personal information?

– No. The law says that information about repressive organs isn’t personal information. Employees of KGB have been deprived of their right to hide information. But it also says that a victim of the regime can turn to the archive and seal information about himself for up to 25 years. No one else can do this, neither the descendants of this person: the information is a non-derogable right that can’t be inherited and belongs only to a specific person. So far we haven’t had any cases when a persecuted person has sealed information, but there is the possibility to do this. If someone uses this right we would either have to make a copy of the file and delete the sealed information from it or make the document completely inaccessible. The only kind of information that relatives of a victim can seal is so called sensitive information: about health and sexuality. But so far I didn’t encounter any such cases either.


– And what if, let’s say, the person himself isn’t alive, but the widow is, and she risks to encounter some information about the life of her husband that KGB has dug up, that is unknown or unpleasant to her?

– That’s a tricky question. But, unfortunately or luckily, such details aren’t mentioned in the legislation. There is an universal rule: we have the position of full disclosure. This is very important, because when part of the files for some reason remain classified you can’t know to what degree the sealed information can change your view on what you already know. Sometimes it goes like this: you look at a file and get a picture of it, but when you take up another document it turns out that everything you saw until this is just a provocative elaboration that doesn’t have anything to do with the reality. Because of this it would be very important that all files are open. It is also important to point out that according to the law it’s not the archivist who distributed the file who is responsible for spreading information from it, but the publisher of this information. We tell everyone who come to the reading hall about this new norm of law, that it’s them and not us who has the responsibility for what they publish afterwards.


– And what if the visitors publish distorted documents, either due to headlessness or consciously?

– That’s completely the responsibility of the visitors. That is, if someone thinks that something is as it shouldn't be he can’t sue the archive, only the person who spread the information. This was done to remove archivists’ eternal fear of giving out files.


– Is there any limitations at all on the openness? Let’s say that there are some Soviet intelligence data about foreign intelligence agencies in funds from the Second Chief Directorate that was doing counter-espionage, about the CIA for example, could this be information that is still considered to be states secrets in other countries?

– No, the limitations of CIA don’t concern us.

There are specific rules for cases when an employee of KGB later started working for the Security Service of Ukraine: such cases are subject to another law. But it’s worth telling about a particularity of the archive: the closer to here and now, the worse the condition of the fund. There were a few waves of destruction of documents, the last one in the beginning of the 90’s. It was clear what the use of this was, and within KGB there was an order to destroy a big amount of documents. Not much is preserved from the 80’s, so your question is unfortunately not of that vital importance.


– Are the list of contents of the destroyed documents preserved?

– No, they were also destroyed. Quite a lot of documents were unfortunately destroyed, and so were the card-indexes. Therefor the science and fund departments are now engaged in restoring the list of contents. An archival guidebook has been published in Ukrainian and Russian and is accessible online. There you can generally speaking see what information is stored in which funds.


– Has something been sent to Moscow?

– This is sometimes mentioned, but no one knows the details. You could assume that something indeed was sent there, but what exactly and how much… When also the archives in Russia will open up we will find out. I hope that will happen during my lifetime.


– What about valuables such as books and papers that were confiscated during rummages, could they be returned to the owners or to their descendants?

– No, that remains with us after all. We even have papal bulls of the Roman Pope! There is dissidents’ diaries and other material evidence as well, of course. Initially part of these items was given to the owner or to relatives. And those who wanted to collected everything during the 90’s. Nowadays we have left this praxis since this whole complex is appraised as a national archival fund. We look at this like archivists and are more interested in preserving the material for its history. We digitize and are ready to make copies, but to give away the original no one is talking about so far. But on the other hand there haven’t been practically any requests like that either.


– Are personal files of the agency preserved?

– Very few, a few thousand all in all. The major part of them was apparently destroyed.


– So files concerning the strategic developments are preserved but the creators of the developments aren’t known or not yet identified?

– Every case is different, but in general: no. Let’s put it like this: there is a secret-service development, where agent X tips off on somebody. But there are very small possibilities to check who this agent X is. You would need to conduct an investigation, a meticulous work, and sometimes you succeed to find out the agent. It’s important to point out that the main approach in accordance to which we work is to look for information about victims of the regime. This is the main point that is important to us. To look for some agents or anonymous authors and score-settling is not in our focus. The main aim is to give citizens as well as researchers access to information that used to be inaccessible.


– So the files of the funds are organized not according to the agent, but according to the development target, and several agents may be involved?

– Yes, yes. There are developments on specific persons, on all kinds of institutions and on some events. There is real evidence, there is tip-offs from agents, but these are tip-offs from the agents X, Y and Z, and the personal files of X, Y and Z were stored in other funds and don’t exist anymore. But the funds are different, and different information is stored in them. But the funds are different and contain different kinds of information. In some fund there are tip-offs from KGB to the Central Party Committee, some fund contains printed publications from KGB in which there’s not only printed publications but also other files that were moved there by the employees of the State security as an example of how to teach succeeding generations. The file of the Harbinians is a bright example: it is stored at our place in the fund of printed publications as an example of how such operations should be conducted.


– What about the registration cards of the staff? Do the registration cards of the secret collaborators still exist?

– The cards of the staff still exist, yes. Who knows, maybe the cards of secret agents also are to be found somewhere.


– Are the investigative files on all political matters preserved?

– Yes, almost all political files are preserved, and the non-political ones are stored in the archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.


– Interesting: are there any files on people who moved abroad?

– I don’t know this yet, I have to check. I am still a ”young director”, and since I have only been working for a few months I haven’t had time to get acquainted with everything yet.


– Who was managing the archive before you?

– Igor Kulyk. He was managing the archive from 2014 and now moved to the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance to create the archive where files from the Security Service of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other institutions should be transferred. And I came here to replace him and to organize this transfer. I’m sure he would have more to say, I’m sorry.


– Have you had to ask the archive of FSB or the archive of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for some back-up information?

– We used to have a cooperation, we would ask them for files and they would ask us, there was an exchange of archival information, but now the communication with FSB has stopped. Since we come under the Security Service of Ukraine we are forbidden to interact with Russian Intelligence Agencies because of the war. All in all the archive of the Security Service is now an interesting phenomena, because the idea of any Security Service in any country is based on the idea that it is a secret service, where everything is secret. Every agency thinks like this: we are a secret institution, everything we do is a big secret. The Ukrainian agency is no exception. But at the archive we say the opposite: we are open. A cognitive dissonance occurs. But the archive will move soon and I hope that the situation in Russia will change soon and that we will be able to come visit your wealthy archives, there is a demand for them. A lot of foreign researchers come to us to see one of the biggest archives of KGB that is open for users. I also invite you.


– Are you and your colleagues employees of the Security Service?

– Yes, at this moment I am a civilian employee of the Security Service of Ukraine, I am not a military man. Afterwards I step away from the Security Service of Ukraine and won’t be connected to it in any way. Other archivists are mainly military men, but not all. The first opening of the archives happened in 2008 when Valentin Nalivaychenko was the head of the Security Service and Vladimir Vyatrovich was the director of the archive. They exchanged a lot of the staff.


– When should the funds be handed over to the archive of the Institute of National Remembrance?

– According to the law this should happen within two years from the day the law came into force, that is, before May 2017. I hope we can make it. An anniversary of the year 1917 will  take place.


– Could you tell a bit more precisely about your plans on digitalizing?

– We have a big plan on maximal digitalizing. But at the moment the digitalizing in general goes in two directions. First of all, it’s the documents that are most frequently asked for. Documents about the deportations of Crimean Tatars for example. We also digitalized special collections about the Chernobyl tragedy. The other direction is digitalizing of the requests that we get from citizens or from our academic partners. We are trying to combine these two directions. Let’s say that we get requests from abroad and we find a few documents. Then we in general digitalize these documents ourselves and send them to people by e-mail, since there is no point in coming all the way to us only for those documents. When there is a big request and we simply can’t handle it ourselves we invite the person to come to us with his camera, because unfortunately our capability is limited.


– In what language can you send a request?

– In principle in any language. Ukrainian, Russian, English. The main thing is that we can read and understand it. If you write to us in Russian we answer in Russian, if you write in English we try to answer in English. But since the main part of the documents are in Ukrainian or Russian, the persons who write to us in one way or another know or at least can read in one of these languages.


– In the preamble of the law it says that you are creating mechanisms to implement every person’s right to access to information. What do you think, are you successful in this?

– Yes, but there are exceptions. When we were giving reasons for why this law should be enacted we had a few important aspects in mind. First of all, the international manifest and our legislation demands this: information about violation of human rights can’t be restricted. In fact all of the KGB-documents contain information about massive violations of human rights. If we are building a state governed by the rule of law that respects human rights this item has to be implemented. Another aspect is that Ukraine as a state is responsible to restore violated rights even though these rights were violated during the Soviet Union, in fact by another state. Even though the person is no longer alive and we can’t restore his rights we are still responsible for offering the possibility to restore the reminiscence of him. It happens that there are no alive descendants of repressed persons. And therefor it is the responsibility of the state to at least bring these names to light, to document them for remembrance. But a long-term goal is, of course, to prevent state repressions in the future. Everyone should know that sooner or later any information will be open. We consider ourselves to be responsible for this. And the third aspect is to give the opportunity to citizens to get to know history that used to be forbidden, that no one used to talk about, that was intentionally hushed up, to get to know something that they possibly didn’t suspect: the active work of public organizations, everything that is called civil society. Unseen public policies, to know about what used to be forbidden – what connects a citizen with the community, with the society. This is also a component of restoring the memory and knowledge, we have some kind of background, we have a past, and even though something wasn't talked about in the Soviet Union it doesn’t mean that none of that happened. We get requests that are not from researchers, local historians or relatives, but simply from people who write to us that they come from a place called so-and-so and that there were rumors that there was a priest who was repressed, and since I go to that church I am interested in knowing more about him. This is not mainstream, but there are requests like that, which is delighting. There is a hitch between enacting a legislative innovation and a full application of the law in real life. But we try to always stay in touch with both the archivists as well as representatives for other archives. We made a check list for archivists to clarify what exactly this law means for them, what rights they have, what sanctions there are for violating this law and how to work according to the law. There is also a long process of rewriting by-laws, regulations, instructions and so on – it’s nothing you do in the twinkling of an eye. We created a special group on Facebook, Доступ до архiвiв (Access to archives) and are trying to monitor what kind of problems there are in different places and what new challenges are occurring. The other side of the story of our law, and I personally have experienced this, is that people come and say ”give us everything immediately”. There are curious incidents when there are a lot of requests and few people who are working with these requests and we have to hand the person only a part of the files and say: ”come here in two weeks please, we don’t have time to sort out the material any sooner than that unfortunately”. Sometimes it’s hard to explain that even though we are working according to the principle ”as soon as possible” it doesn’t mean ”right now”. Or a request like this: ”give us information about all the Ivanovs in your archive”. This means that you would have to interrupt the work of a whole department to look for these files. Then a question occurs: we are going to look for information that we don’t know what it is about, to what degree it is needed by the person who sent the request and to what degree he has been working with other sources. We rather look for information about a specific person and can narrow down the search, which makes the chances of finding something a lot bigger.


– Could you have imagined in December 2013 that…

– …No! Of course not! This was a complete fantasy back then. But on the other hand we started working on this law in 2010. When Yanukovich became the president and the access policy changed me and my colleagues and friends understood that when the situation changes again (and we knew it would absolutely change) we have to have ready solutions to problematic questions. So during 2010–2011 we were working on solving the problem of access to these archives. We studied the experience of Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and the Baltic countries, we were discussing, writing and rewriting concepts, and when the situation changed we, as a result of this, already had a vision of how the question of access should be solved. We understood that this should be a separate, special law and what it should regulate. Within a year we managed to prepare the law, analyze it and bring it in.


– Who are ”we”?

– ”We” is a group of colleagues. At first we were working at the Center of Liberation Movement Research and when our colleague Ruslan Zabily was arrested in 2010 for trying to spread states secrets (which were documents from NKVD about the battle with the Ukrainian underground movement and the Ukrainian rebel army) we understood that everything is moving towards the Soviet script and we started rethinking this law. In 2014 we created a special group where, if I’m not mistaken, 27 experts were included: historians, archivists, representatives for different academic institutes and representatives for state institutions. This group is called ”Politics of National Remembrance” and is acting within the framework of the initiative ”Reanimation Package of Reforms”, a big Ukrainian initiative that unites all kinds of organizations and experts. We meet, discuss and argue about how the legislation and law enforcement should work in this sphere. That’s us. 


– Do you experience any countermeasures regarding your archival activities? Or any negative consequences?

– Strangely enough a considerable part of the archivists from the State Archive Agency and other archives was against this in the beginning. Why they were against it is hard to say, but it would be good to clear that up. Their position is kind of like this: our project, and everything else that we propose, is of very bad quality, doesn’t meet the society’s needs at all, is not interesting to anybody and opening the archives to everyone shouldn’t be done at all since it might lead to some ”big complications”. One of the arguments was that it will exacerbate the confrontation in the society. I wouldn’t say that the confrontation has been exacerbated. No one has undertaken to find out who was telling on whom back then, I haven't heard about any such cases. But on the other hand it’s important to remember what kind of system this was, how broad it was and how it penetrated all spheres of life. The law also says that copying information that refers to archives of repressive agencies can’t come with a fee. They can only be free of charge. Maybe the archivists didn’t like this. Maybe it was some kind of professional jealousy: we, as amateurs, as unprofessional archivists came and started telling how things should be. ”At first work in archives for 20 years, then come to preach and reform”.


– But it seems like you also without 20 years of experience prepared well for the reform.

– In principle all of the current changes and reforms in Ukraine, everything that is more or less successful, is based on the groundwork that was done before 2014. And the other way around: what isn’t working out now is a result of a lack of preparations. Where the homework was done you can see results, where it wasn’t done everything is going down.


– Where, for example?

– Oh… Unfortunately in very many places. It’s even hard to answer. But I suppose the very weakest one is the reform of the jurisdiction: weak agencies, the procuracy authorities…