SBU continues destroying the Museum-Prison “Tyurma na Lonskoho”


Lviv Regional Security Service [SBU] officers have over the last two days searched the offices of research staff of the National Memorial Museum of Victims of the Occupation Regimes “Tyurma na Lonskoho” in Lviv. According to the Acting Director of the Liberation Movement Research Centre, Vasyl Stefaniv, the SBU removed two computers and numerous pieces of material which the staff had prepared for an exhibition on the dissident movement in Ukraine.

The searches were carried out over 13 and 14 September. This was how the SBU checked that there no “state secrets” lurking.

Mr Stefaniv says that the historians found that two laptops were missing. These held numerous photocopies, scanned archival documents from different archives which they were preparing for the exhibition on the dissident movement, paper documents, as well as video recordings where former dissidents recount their memories, taped over the last two years.

The SBU officers, for example, removed scanned material on the KGB “Bloc” Case, orders from the MGB [only the name was different, the same KGB – translator] management from 1945, documents from the Lithuanian archive of the former KGB.

“What is most worrying is that they removed a considerable part of the memoirs of participants in the Ukrainian liberation movement and dissidents. Paper documents which people brought us for the exhibition, people who had themselves been in the prison. After the search, museum employees were allowed to return to their workplaces, however there can’t be any proper work since people don’t have the two computers”, Mr Stefaniv explains. “This was an unauthorized search without a court order. If the SBU says that this is a Security Service matter, then it is important to stress that the National Museum is a separate legal entity which is renting the SBU premises”.

The December exhibition is under threat

The opening of the exhibition on the dissident movement in Ukraine was planned for December. The Museum’s staff are hard-put to explain the actions of the SBU. After all the history of the dissident movement and its participants is not a state secret, and the material has been published in the media.

Former dissident and prisoner at the prison “Tyurma na Lonskoho”, Iryna Kalynets says that she has difficulty understanding the logic of the SBU actions. She believes that this is an attempt to stop the research work of the National Museum-prison “Tyurma na Lonskoho” altogether, but  says that the Lviv public will not allow this.

SBU officers are not letting Museum visitors onto the territory of the prison courtyard where in June 1941 the NKVD murdered around 1700 people. Last week the research staff could not get to their workplaces for several days because the area where their offices are was locked.

On 15 September the Head of the SBU for the Lviv region, Yury Kitsula, has promised to explain the actions of the SBU at a press conference.

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