DW Editor: Secret Files Wiped Clean of Historic Records

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | October 22, 2004, Friday // 00:00
DW Editor: Secret Files Wiped Clean of Historic Records

Alexander Andreev is a Bulgarian national who is now editor at the Bulgarian section of Deutsche Welle, Germany's national broadcaster. His career as a journalist started at the Bulgarian National Radio before he joined the Deutsche Welle team in 1991. His writings have been published in Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, the UK, Belgium, Singapore and the Netherlands. Andreev - who speaks six languages - has also worked as an advisor for many Bulgarian state institutions, top statesmen and political parties.

Mr Andreev answered questions of Milena Hristova, Editor-in-Chief of Novinite.com and Sofia Morning News

Q: How much delayed would be an eventual full access to secret files kept in Bulgaria, taking into account that many of those had been destroyed?

A: Your question implies the reply. Declassification of secret files will be as delayed as much time has passed from the large-scale destruction of archives in the first half of 1990. Witnesses and politicians (for example Dimitar Ludzhev*) have decisively claimed that over that period archives were being taken out, loaded on trucks and burned in the furnaces of Kremikovtzi**. What was left was torn apart and cannot be trusted. It is not by accident that those left-overs found their only "application" in manufacturing "discrediting facts".

Now, I must highlight on an important issue: the archives of the former State Security Service should not be referred as a whole entity. The simplest distinction to make is between the archives of the domestic political police (mostly those of Sixth Department for Fight against Ideological Diversion, and of Fifth Department for Security and Guard, and Second Main Department) on the one side and the archives of Bulgarian departments operating abroad on the other side.

Q: President Georgi Parvanov and his successor at the helm of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Sergey Stanishev objected the proposal of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg to legitimate full access to the secret files of former State Security Service. Is this reaction of theirs logical?

A: I would not call it logics. Rather, the supposed motives could be more interesting. In my opinion, the most important is that Georgi Parvanov, in his capacity of incumbent president (who can be also reelected) and Sergey Stanishev, as a leader of the party facing all chances to sweep the majority of upcoming elections, would not be pleased with the idea that somebody rummage among archives during their respective mandates.

Their reluctance can be explained in public quite reasonably: to look ahead, not to trigger off another spate of mutual disgrace, to watch out for the so-called "national security", etc. Many would say that the Bulgarian Socialist Party is afraid of any declassification of secret files mostly because as a successor of ex-Communist Party the fault of recording those files falls partly on them, as well as the fault for the whole system of tracing, spying and nosing.

Also the fact that Socialist party's members will be mostly concerned if free access to secret files is approved, as then certain facts about cash transfers abroad in the period 1985-1990 the "warm relations" between the former State Security Service and some underground and semi-criminal structures evolved later will then be brought back into the limelight.

Suggestions like these are only partly related to reality, firstly because Bulgarian Socialist Party is unlikely to preoccupy too much with moral affairs, and secondly, the archives have been wiped clean of the most subtle records that could have cast more light on the money drainage and the initial incrimination of economy.

Q: How would you comment on the statements claiming that the revival of the secret files affair is actually a move of the incumbents in view of upcoming elections?

A: I would not believe it to be a pre-elections move just because the average voter in Bulgaria is not so deeply moved by the secret files. If the still unclearly expressed ideas of the prime minister {Simeon Saxe-Coburg} do seek for a kind of pre-elections effect, it would be rather related to an attempt of approaching the split right wing factions in the country that had always - at least publicly - called for opening the secret files.

Q: What have you come up to as a result of your journalistic researches right after the archives were opened?

A: It is a long story to tell, but to cut it short I would highlight on some of the main conclusions I then made:

The accessible files were in a rather messy condition (compared to the archives of the Eastern Germany's Stasi). It was impossible to search for something specific, it was often that descriptions of certain archived items were missing, numerous documents were also missing from the folders I searched through.

There was no system designed to delete names of random individuals, there was also no opportunity provided to copy documents.

Of course, there was no access provided to the archives of First Main Department for Reconnoiter, to Fourth Department for Scientific and Technical Reconnoiter, to Third Department for Military Reconnoiter.

Q: What would be the differences between declassifying secret files in Bulgaria and in Germany so far as concerns about the national security are considered? What could happen in the aftermath?

A: The main difference comes from the fact that the state of the German Democratic Republic {Eastern Germany} did not exist at the time when the archives of German Security Service Stasi were opened for full access. While the Republic of Bulgaria is a successor of once People's Republic of Bulgaria and is entitled to claim control over some of the archives.

Hence, it is all about the way of formulating the scope of that notorious term "national security", of arranging the access to documents of various level of secrecy, as well as the time provided for declassification of secret files. For instance, here are several frequently asked questions the answers to which are constantly veiled with the "national security":
1. Is there nowadays a legitimate national interest to be protected through classifying information about the espionage on Western technologies in the 80s, the projects Neva and Montblanc?

2. Isn't it high time that spy operations once organised against NATO should be made public, as Bulgaria is now a member of the Alliance?

3. What about the active operations (including murders that under then active legislation of the People's Republic of Bulgaria were not crimes) committed against emigrants?

Unfortunately, replies to these and many other questions are kept in the archives mainly of the National Reconnoiter Service (and the National Investigation Service), and as the two former are still operating organisations, they are neither entitled, nor have the desire to allow anybody have access to the documents.

Q: If archives are opened, replies to which questions do you expect to find there?

A: Some of the questions I already outlined here above. We should also take into the account that positive results could be obtained only if the archives are fully accessible, which is not possible. In theory, Bulgarian society can hold two motives for declassifying the archives: To retreat and process the entire information about the system of political oppression inside the country. It means that the access mainly to the archives of the Sixth Department of the former State Security Service will reveal the mechanism of dictatorship and voice the names of numerous activists (at both lower and higher levels) that - voluntarily and/or at remuneration - had supported that dictatorship.

This way of development (already impossible) has its dark and bright sides. The bright one is that each of us, the people who used to live in that system, shall face its own share of moral responsibility, irrespectively whether he/she was involved by office duty, practiced as spy or was simply a conformist. The dark side is that same as the Germans experienced: it leads to countless personal dramas, reopens healed scars, ruins families and human biographies.

In my opinion, however, the former is the better way of development instead of veiling this issue in silence and see it one day returning like a boomerang. Because generations unaware of the times when the Republic of Bulgaria existed, will surely one day start asking quite uncomfortable questions to their parents and grandparents.

The second possible motive refers to the wish to know what happened at national macro-level. I have already outlined the parameters of interest in that sense: the money transferred abroad, the initial accumulation of capital, the establishment of underground and semi-criminal structures.

As I mentioned, this information will never ever see broad daylight. Unless by way of some unbelievable luck Bulgarians are given free access to the "copy" of the archives of above cited departments at the former State Security Service. It seems quite probable to believe in the existence of such a "copy" kept in Moscow and experience has shown that under certain circumstances it could also appear at some other place. In the case with the former Eastern Germany such a "copy" was provided by the USA - the well-known Rosewood files.

Q: Are you optimistic?

A: No

* Dimitar Ludzhev was Deputy Prime Minister in Dimitar Popov's coalition government (1990-1991). In 1991-1992 he took on the Defense Ministry in the right-wing cabinet of Philip Dimitrov

** The major steel plant situated in the outskirts of capital Sofia.

We need your support so Novinite.com can keep delivering news and information about Bulgaria! Thank you!

Interview » Be a reporter: Write and send your article
Bulgaria news Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) is unique with being a real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news. The editorial staff also publishes a daily online newspaper "Sofia Morning News." Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) and Sofia Morning News publish the latest economic, political and cultural news that take place in Bulgaria. Foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and World News in Brief are also part of the web site and the online newspaper. News Bulgaria