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Bulgaria parliament votes to declassify Communist-era secret police files

[JURIST] The Bulgarian Parliament [official website] voted Wednesday to open the archives of the nation's former communist secret service [Wikipedia backgrounder] in order to disclose information about 29 categories of people who currently hold or have held positions of responsibility in Bulgaria [JURIST news archive]. The law, which passed with 107 votes in favor and 42 against, requires the publication of all files identifying public figures such as politicians, senior public officials, magistrates, clergymen and journalists who served as former communist secret agents. A portion of the files will remain secret for "national security purposes." Former or present heads of departments or sectors at the Military Information Service or at the National Intelligence Service after July 16, 1991, will not be subject to file declassification in order to protect people who are still on active intelligence duty.

The legislation makes public the past of former communist secret agents but includes no sanctions, such as stripping them of public office. The law calls for the creation of a nine-member panel who will be appointed and charged with declassifying the secret files. Its members will be elected by parliament to a five-year term in office, but it is unclear when the first panel would be appointed. The archives are currently controlled by Bulgaria's National Intelligence Service [official website]. AP has more. The Bulgarian News Network has local coverage.

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