New website offers details of Bulgaria’s communist-era State Security agents
A new website, agentibg.com, was launched on November 24, offering searchable details of people identified as having worked for Bulgaria’s communist-era State Security and military intelligence.
The site, in Bulgarian and English, brings together information from the succession of commissions legislated by Parliament to identify former State Security people – the 1997 Bonev commission, the 2001/02 Andreev commission and the current Dossier Commission, headed by Evtim Kostadinov.
In its entries about people, the site also includes information about their public lives after November 1989, the time of the fall of Bulgaria’s communist regime.
The Dossier Commission has its own official website, but its design makes searching through it to check whether someone has a State Security background somewhat of a time-consuming process.
The agentibg site was created by investigative journalist and founder of desebg.com, Hristo Hristov, who specialises in covering issues related to the former State Security.
The site is still in its fledgling stages – on launch day, there was just one entry in the English-language version, that about Movement for Rights and Freedoms founder Ahmed Dogan (Agent Sergei, Agent Sava) while the Bulgarian-language version had 25 entries, among them Dogan, current MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan and ABC leader Georgi Purvanov.
Hristov said that 25 years after the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria, the situation was paradoxical.
In the first 16 years of the transition, the public insisted that the records should be opened.
Yet, “I get the impression that in the past few years, there has been tacit media censorship of the facts brought out by the Dossier Commission,” Hristov said.
Now, when dossiers were disclosed, there were investigated only by a small circle of journalists and researchers, he said.
The site offers various form of search, including by name (Bulgarian-style, alphabetically by first name, not surname) and by official position or institution.
In its years of operation, the current Dossier Commission has disclosed the identities of large numbers of people who were State Security agents, and in contemporary Bulgaria are senior leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and other religious communities, were high up in the Foreign Ministry and several other state and government institutions, in educational institutions, business and trade union associations, in the media and in public opinion polling agencies.
Hristov said that the new site was not publishing information related to individuals’ private lives, even though State Security and military intelligence had no scruples about collecting such information.
Georgi Lozanov, a specialist in media matters in Bulgaria, said that the topic of the dossiers of State Security collaborators was not an easy one and there was a lot of resistance to it.
He said that one of the suggestions about the issue was that it had become pointless and had lost relevance: “A topic that we have to forget. Not only State Security, but also the recent past.”
Lozanov noted that a survey marking the 25 years since Bulgaria began its democratic changes showed the “desperate state” of public opinion regarding the recent past, with the young knowing nothing about the communist era and the older generations increasingly more nostalgic about it.
That Hristov was alone in his work as a journalist on the issue was “one reason why 60 per cent of people have begun to like life before 1989 more,” Lozanov said.