15 Y in Jail for Meddling with Secret Services Files in Bulgaria

Politics | August 7, 2006, Monday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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A jail sentence of 5 to 15 years and a fine from BGN 15 000 to 30 000 hangs over those who hides, forges, destroys and releases documents that prove contribution to the Communist-era state security services, a draft law says.

The bill has been tabled to Parliament by the parliamentary group of the predominantly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms and regulates the access and release of secret services files.

The draft legislation proposes an imprisonment of 10 to 20 years and a fine between BGN 50 000 and 100 000 for a member of the state commission who releases information in violation of the law, which have been obtained thanks to the high positions.

Lawmakers propose that all candidates for high state positions declare they did or did not work for the former Durjavna Sigurnost by signing a declaration.

The news comes amidst an ongoing debate over how Bulgaria should reckon with its totalitarian past and after the names of well-known journalists and senior judges, who allegedly collaborated with communist secret services, were revealed or disclosed to their colleagues.

Sixteen years after the collapse of the regime, Bulgaria has remained the only country among former Soviet satellites in failing to reach consensus on the issue.

At the beginning of June the government called for the entire opening of the security police archives, showing a major shift in the stand of the Prime Minister Stanishev, who initially urged that the files should be destroyed.

The laws regulating the archives however are still unclear. All documents related to the former Durjavna Sigurnost are made available only by personal approval of the interior minister.

In 1994, the Bulgarian Parliament passed a law saying that the documents of the Durjavna Sigurnost were not "state secrets," but failed to assure access to the files.

Then in 1997, the first stable anti- Communist government created a commission to screen candidates for high state positions. The commission was closed in 2002 by the government of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg.
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