Bulgaria: Many thousands of communist-era Military Intelligence staff records destroyed

At least 16 000 records of Bulgaria’s communist-era Military Intelligence personnel, the equivalent of nearly half, were destroyed after the beginning of the transition towards democracy, it has emerged.

Specialist website desebg.com reported on the matter, based on Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev’s written reply to questions in Parliament from centre-right MPs Metodi Andreev of GERB and Martin Dimitrov and Petar Slavov of the Reformist Bloc.

There was no clear legal basis for the destruction, desebg.com commented. The records probably were destroyed by the Bulgarian Communist Party as it feared losing power and control over the secret services, the website said – adding that some of the records were destroyed in 1999 – at the time that a right-wing government was in power, headed by Union of Democratic Forces then-leader Ivan Kostov and in which Georgi Ananiev was defence minister and General Angel Katzarov was head of Military Intelligence.

The MPs had asked the Defence Minister about the records because of a discrepancy in numbers in records related to Military Intelligence.

Among a succession of Bulgarian defence ministers, it was Nenchev who succeeded in getting the Military Intelligence records handed over to the Dossier Commission, the body empowered by law to disclose the affiliation of people in various categories of public life to the former State Security and the Military Intelligence division of what was called the Bulgarian People’s Army.

Nenchev said in his written reply that at the end of May 2016, Military Intelligence had submitted to the Dossier Commission copies of all statements regarding protocols.

Nenchev said that MI sent the Commission a total of 87 280 archival units (archive files, documents and registration cards), which meant that the Defense Ministry had fulfilled its commitment to society.

He noted that in early June 2016 had a meeting with Chairman of the files Evtim Kostadinov, which was attended by the new director of Military Intelligence, General Svetoslav Daskalov.

However, since May, the Dossier Commission had not said that the transfer of the archives of Military Intelligence was completed.

Andreev told desebg.com that the big problem was the lack of protocols on destroyed records. Military Intelligence said that a large number of records were destroyed, but there was no protocol to confirm that these documents were destroyed.

Andreev said that he was not satisfied with Nenchev’s reply. “It seems to me that in this matter, he has not done enough.” It was illogical to claim that the law had been fulfilled before an audit was done.

The MPs wanted to know “precisely what was transmitted and what destroyed – how, when and by whom,” Andreev said.

It was possible that the Dossier Commission could refer the matter of the destruction of the achives to prosecutors, because it was unlawful to destroy the documents of the secret services, the report said.

A number of decrees and laws cover this – a Cabinet decree of 1991, previous laws on the disclosure of secret service records from 1991 (amended in 2001) and the 2006 Act of Parliament that established the Dossier Commission. The law on the Dossier Commission says that unauthorised destruction of secret service records is punishable by imprisonment.

There had been resistance for years to handing over the files to the Dossier Commission, with opponents claiming that to do so could put at risk the lives of foreign nationals who had collaborated with Bulgaria’s former secret services – a claim that Nenchev rejected, pointing out that by law, only the identities of Bulgarian citizens could be disclosed.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party, lineal successor to the BCP, has made repeated attempts over the years either to hamstring the Dossier Commission or shut it down entirely and transfer its archives to an “institute of national memory”.

(Photo: Christa Richert/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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