Ukraine prepares to make Soviet KGB archives available online

Ukraine decommunization



While the Czech Republic is about to publish an internet database of 300 thousand scanned communist-era security service documents, Ukraine is undergoing a revision of its KGB archives in order to create, like the Czech Republic, a single open-access archive – The National Memory Archive.

For almost a year since the “decommunization laws” have entered into force, all the documents of repressive Soviet special service agencies in Ukraine’s archives have been available to all, free of charge.

Read also: Summary of Ukraine’s four new decommunization bills

We spoke about this with Ihor Kulyk, Managing Director for Development of National Memory Policy, of the Institute of National Memory.

Ukraine decommunization

Ihor Kulyk, director of Ukraine’s security service (successor to the KGB) archive, notes that all archives of 1918-1991 have been opened. Photo:

In addition, today in Ukraine, a volunteer-led electronic archive of the national liberation movement is active at It holds over 20 thousand electronic copies of documents about Ukraine’s historic liberation movement of the 20th century, as well as KGB materials. This electronic archive is a joint project with the Center for Research on the Liberation Movement, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv and the Lontskoho Street Prison National Museum.

It was previously reported that the Czech Republic would reprint online versions of the minutes of the security services of the Czech Ministry of Internal Affairs and intelligence and counter-intelligence reports. Patrons will also be able to view the Czech State Security leadership documents relating to the Communist coup of February 1948, as well as the actions of security agencies following the death of Czechoslovakian President Klement Gottwald.

Ukraine, in accordance with the law For access to the archives of repressive agencies of the Communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991, is currently in the process of transferring the archives of the Soviet secret police agencies from the Security Service, Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry and other military and civil defense structures to the Public Archive of the Ukrainian National Memory Institute.

Following this transfer, historians will prepare and make these archives freely accessible on the internet.

“Today, Ukrainian police and defense structures are undertaking a revision of their archives to determine which documents of repressive Soviet organizations exist dating to 1917-1991. They must transfer the archives to the National Memory Institute by May 21 of next year. We are simultaneously securing all the requirements for the new branch of the national archive of the Ukrainian National Memory Institute,” said Ihor Kulyk.

The Center for Research on the Liberation Movement reports that there is active collaboration between the Archive of the Ukrainian Security Service and its Czech partners – the National Defense Service Archives and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. In particular, the preparation and publication of the document collections “The Czech Operation and its Consequences (with 1937-1941 NKVD documents of the Ukrainian SSR)” and “OUN and UPA in Czechoslovakian Special Service documents (1944-1959).”

Ukraine and the Czech Republic are also exchanging electronic copies of documents.

The Czech side is transferring documents relating to the actions of Czechoslovakian special service agencies against the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, while the Ukrainian side is transferring archival material regarding criminal cases against former residents of Czechoslovakia repressed by the Soviet totalitarian regime.

The law For access to the archives of repressive agencies of the Communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991 was developed with public participation within the framework of the Open Archives program of the Center for Research on the Liberation Movement, with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation. Proponents are convinced that this step will not only help to deepen understanding about the nation’s history, but will help safeguard against the return of totalitarian practices in the work of law enforcement and special service agencies in independent Ukraine.

Following the collapse of the Communist regime, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Baltic nations and other Central and Eastern European nations have made the secret documents of correctional institutions and secret police accessible, and have passed them on to civilian authorities like the National Memory Institute.

Read also: Ten myths about decommunization in Ukraine

Translated by: Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu
Source: Center for researching liberation movements

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  • Dalton

    This should be interesting

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      That’s the understatement of the millennium. Historians will have a field day, they will have material to keep them busy for decades!
      People in the Ukraine are finally able to discover what happened to their disappeared relatives during the Soviet reign of terror.
      As a bonus the Kremlin trolls will be shut up, with the Kremlin and its agencies condemned by their own archives. They won’t be able to deny anything any longer.
      Pity the material is in either Ukrainian or Russian, though- my Russian is poor and my Ukrainian hopeless. I’d love to read all the fascinating stuff that will undoubtedly turn up.

      • Oknemfrod

        Most important of the documents will most likely be pounced upon by Ukrainian history scholars (if not being already) asap – it’s hard to imagine how anyone in this profession could keep away from such a treasure trove – and translated by them into English. The typed docs can be OCRed and auto-translated with a modicum of subsequent editing. For the ones written in cursive, it’s a chore needing people quite proficiently versed in R and U. If some particular hand-written excerpt should attract your attention and you have a difficult time with it, please let me know at oknemfrod at gmail dot com, and I’ll be able to help (time permitting – not a scholar, but fully proficient in both languages).

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          Thank you for your offer. The period I’m most interested in is 1917-1920, including the German/Austro-Hungarian occupation of the Ukraine. Unfortunately the Allies demanded immediate evacuation of all German troops under the terms of the Nov. 11th Armistice, which in retrospect was extremely stupid; it created a power vacuum as the Allies could not and/or would not send forces to replace the Germans. One of the many stupidities of the Big Four Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando (OK, make that 3.5 as Italy could hardly be considered a Full Big).

          • Oknemfrod

            I see. Well, as I said, if you should finds something specific to be elucidated linguistically, you have my offer.

  • Alex George

    This is going to be fascinating.

    And the FSB, with its mania for secrecy about all its previous operations, will be livid.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The beauty of it is that once documents are published on the internet, they are public forever. Historians, universities and private persons- not to mention governments- all over the world will be downloading stuff left, right and centre to ensure that published material doesn’t disappear. So far the site has published some 23,000 items but this will become millions eventually, though this won’t be achieved overnight.
      I suspect that the Ukrainian archives will contain copies of documents in the Dwarfstanian archives, certainly with regard to Ukrainian affairs but possibly also with regard to Belarus and other SSRs. This is going to shoot holes in what passes as “history” in Dwarfstan.

      I can’t wait……….

  • TheBlogFodder

    Let’s see Russia match this!

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      You jest! Do you seriously expect the demented dwarf to release ALL of the Cheka/GPU/OGPU/NKVD/MGB/KGB files from 1918-1991 as Kyiv is now doing? Yeltsin partly opened Russian archives to scholars from all over the world, the dwarf closed them again. Too many uncomfortable truths were becoming public.
      There are two chances of the dwarf releasing the Cheka and successor files- one is slim, the other fat. The only documents the dwarf will release will be forgeries.