Seimas committee decides to overhaul lustration law

KGB archives

Lithuania's parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense has decided to overhaul the Law on Lustration ensuring protection of the former KGB agents and providing for exceptions.

The committee decided on Wednesday not to limit itself to a bill proposed by MP Zbignev Jedinski of the opposition Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, and set up a special panel to draft amendments to the law by October.

Jedinski proposes publishing the now-classified names of former KGB collaborators who have admitted to their former collaboration as well as information they provided. The Seimas of Lithuania has already given its initial backing to such a bill.

Critics say Russian secret services could use the bill for its own advantage as now the country does not know which of the former agents have admitted their former activity.

The existing version of the Law on Lustration provides for classifying information on former KGB collaborators for 75 years. But if such a person runs for president, parliament or a local council, or is a candidate for a government minister, judge or prosecutor, their admission no longer constitutes a state secret and information has to be published.

Arvydas Anušauskas of the conservative opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats says a compromise is needed as the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance continues raising this issue.

"In terms of real threats to national security, I believe every threat has its own limits. And this threat also has certain limits that have to do with those people's age. If a person is dead or is very old, obviously he no longer poses threat to national security. So in this case we can discuss shortening this term of 75 years," he said.

A report by Lithuanian intelligence institutions showed in March that Russian intelligence services are using Russian archives on classified information about former KGB collaborators in Lithuania while recruiting Lithuanian citizens.

A law that came into force in 2000 allowed former workers of and collaborators with the Soviet KGB and other special services to voluntarily admit the fact by a certain deadline and register with a special commission, and that information was classified. Those who failed to admit their KGB past faced disclosure and certain professional restrictions.

After a deadline for voluntary admission was set, 1,589 people turned to the Lustration Commission and admitted their past collaborations with the Soviet secret services.

Based on the remaining KGB documents, around 118,000 people are estimated to have collaborated with the KGB in Lithuania in 1940-1991.

Historians say a part of the KGB archives in Lithuania could have been destroyed, and a significant part of them were taken to Russia.

Source: BNS
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