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Russia: Historian investigating Soviet victims of repression interrogated by the FSB

03.10.2009    source:

Mikhail Suprun, a well-known historian and Professor of History at the Pomorsky State University in Arkhangelsk, who is writing a book on German victims of Soviet repression, has been accused of divulging their personal data. The FSB [Federal Security Service] detained him, a PhD student and the Head of the Archives of the Department of Internal Affairs for the Arkhangelsk Region, Alexander Dudarev who had provided the researchers with access to archival material.  They are working on a “Book of Memory” about Russian Germans repressed during Stalin’s times and investigating the fate of foreign prisoners of war held in the northern labour camps.

Similar FSB “conversations” were held with lecturers and students of the university, as well as activists from the museum of Russian Germans.

Professor Suprun told Novaya Gazeta that his car had been stopped on 13 September, and an FSB officer had taken him to an investigator. The latter told him that somebody had reported to the FSB that they didn’t want information about their relatives in the Book of Memory.  Professor Suprun says that the search carried out was without any niceties and they had implied that he should be pleased that they didn’t break the shelves. “They took away, among other things, my archive – documents on the history of Russia in the XX century, which I brought from America, material from the Pomorsky Scientific Fund, …. They basically took away everything written in foreign languages. Nor did they show a court order either for the home search, or at work”.

Last Wednesday he was summoned for questioning at the regional Prosecutor’s Office. After he refused to be questioned without a lawyer he was released on the promise that he would go to the investigator. The investigator of the Prosecutor’s Office says that he is suspected of violating Article 137 § 1 of the Criminal Code (divulging personal information) and inciting a public official (Dudarev) to violate Article 286 (Exceeding official duties). It was Dudarev who gave instructions to find the archival material and allowed it to be copied.

Mikhail Suprun says that FSB officers began developing this “Case of the historians” around a month before he was detained. His students told him that they had been called in for questioning.

The investigator told Novaya that “Suprun copied whole personal information details about those resettled and sent them abroad…. The relatives are against it, they say that nobody asked their consent and they don’t want anyone finding out about their father. Some hid their nationality, surname: they made Russian ones from German or Jewish names.”  He adds that 75 years have not passed after which this information can be divulged. Now it can be used for research but passing on personal details without the consent of relatives is prohibited. 

Professor Suprun says that any statements from relatives are fakes.

“In accordance with the conditions of the agreement information which we collect is strictly confidential Nobody knows about it, and the “Book of Memory” is only to come out in 2-3 years How the person discovered that we were putting it together is unclear – nobody, except the participants in the project knew.”

He assumes that they are trying to punish the Head of the Archives of the Department of Internal Affairs for the Arkhangelsk Region, Alexander Dudarev who helped put together a “Book of Memory” about Polish victims of repression.  This explanation is also strange since the book has been available for 10 years, and seven volumes of the “Book of Memory” have also come out. According to Jan Rachinsky from Memorial, the publication in itself cannot be an offence.

From information at

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