RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
RFE/RL NEWSLINE 14 February 2000
THOUSANDS ATTEND ANTI-FASCIST RALLY IN HUNGARY. President
Arpad Goncz and former Prime Minister Gyula Horn of the
opposition Socialist Party joined an estimated 10,000 people
in a 13 February Budapest rally denouncing fascism and hate-
mongering. The demonstration was organized by the Civil
Forum, a grouping of 17 organizations, to mark the
anniversary of the end of the siege of Buda castle in 1945.
Also on 13 February, some 1,000 people gathered outside the
Austrian Embassy in Budapest to express support for Joerg
Haider and the new Austrian government. The demonstration was
organized by the youth section of the extreme-right Hungarian
Justice and Life Party. MSZ
LITHUANIA ASKS KGB COLLABORATORS TO CONFESS
By Ahto Lobjakas
In general, the Baltic experience of coming to terms
with Communist collaborators sharply contrasts with that of
the rest of Eastern Europe.
Countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and
Hungary had their own secret services. The post-communist
governments of those countries set up procedures to make the
files available to the public. The Baltic countries, on the
other hand, were Soviet republics and fell within the
jurisdiction of the KGB. As the Soviet Union began to
disintegrate and the KGB withdrew from the Baltic region, it
took with it a large part of the Estonian, Latvian, and, to a
lesser extent, Lithuanian secret files.
Since the Baltic countries had no access to the bulk of
the KGB records, they have had to seek out collaborators.
Both Estonia and Lithuania have passed laws requiring
collaborators to come forward and register themselves.
As of 1 February, all Lithuanian citizens who
collaborated with the KGB have six months to report to a
special commission. Lithuania's deputy minister of justice,
Gintaras Svadas, explained to RFE/RL how this process will
work: "Those citizens who took part in the secret activities
of the KGB are required, as it were, to use any means to
inform the commission of that fact. They will then have to
visit the Committee of National Security of the Republic of
Lithuania, where they will fill out a special form providing
details of their collaboration with the KGB."
Svadas said that the identities of those who come
forward will not be revealed. But collaborators who do not
come forward within six months risk having their names
disclosed to the public. Some of their identities are known
to the authorities from salvaged KGB files, while others may
be identified by other collaborators.
Dalia Kuodite, the director of Lithuania's Genocide and
Resistance Research Center, which is represented on the
special commission, says the law will be an important means
of setting the historical record straight. But she says that
from a practical point of view, it may come too late either
to limit the effect of collaborators on society or to punish
Last November, the Lithuanian parliament adopted a law
banning former KGB operatives from certain government
positions. The new law on collaborators is expected to help
monitor compliance with that ban.
RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service Director Kestutis Girnius
says Lithuania took so long to address the role of
collaborators because, after independence, the Communist
Party transformed itself into a major force in the country.
The often dominant role of that party in the 1990s has
hindered the process of lustration.
In contrast to Lithuania's Communists, Estonia's local
Communist Party was widely seen as an agent of Russification.
When the country regained independence in 1991, the party
found itself out of favor, and Estonia swiftly passed a law
banning former KGB operatives from high office. Alone among
the Baltic states, Estonia requires anyone seeking such
office to take an "oath of conscience," declaring that they
did not collaborate with the KGB. The ban expires in 2002.
Lithuania's new law on collaborators follows the example
set by Estonia five years ago, when Estonia passed a law
requiring people those who collaborated with the security
services of any occupying power to register themselves with
the security police within a year. The information gleaned
from collaborators was treated as confidential, and those who
did not comply faced public exposure.
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent currently based in
Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
All rights reserved.