How Georgian KGB archive was taken to Smolensk
14/12/2009 10:38
Сlub of experts

Records management in the bodies of security services of Georgia was centralized i.e. was directed from Moscow in the entire course of its existence. Record management of archives of the department was no exception. Employees of archival units were selected, appointed, and if necessary, reappointed to other posts and dismissed from their jobs by local management of security services. But their daily activities were carried out in accordance with orders and instructions, drawn up and approved by central KGB. Activities of archive staff were periodically inspected by both local and central control structures - working group of inspection that were sent from the centre. Results of tests were usually reported to local leadership as well.

Archival records are among important issues in any institution, and it would be nice for experienced professionals of archival business to provide public with publications on burning issues of the day.

Our goal is to provide public with may be meager, but useful information that is available to us about sudden removal of certain part of cases kept in KGB archives in Georgia to Russia, namely to Smolensk, in the 90s of the last century.

As it was noted in a previous publication, after the events of April 9, 1989 in Tbilisi national movement intensified significantly. Large demonstrations were organized in front of government buildings. During one of such demonstrations at 3 Lesia Ukrainka Street, where buildings of Interior Ministry and State Security service Committee were located next to each other, a group of young people at the call of rally organizers managed to break through a cordon of security guards of KGB administrative building. The youth who stormed into a building started a pogrom in offices. Personal belongings and documents, including several volumes of one of the criminal cases were stolen.

In connection with the above mentioned events the subdivision of internal security of the department of inspection of the KGB (the head G. Maisuradze) conducted an inner inquiry. During this inquiry shortcomings in work that determined negative consequences of this incident had been established. The abovementioned group was responsible for protection of secret files of KGB from outside infringement and evacuation of secret documents to a safe place in case of possible or existing threats and organization of protection of these documents.

At the same time, given the consequences of the incident, the group raised a question of the need to temporarily evacuate important and valuable for the immediate future materials (operational, historical, etc.) before Major-General Otar Khatiashvili, then Chairman of the Committee of Security Services of Georgia. It was suggested to transport documents from the building of the KGB to other, more reliable and additional storage and store them there until operational situation in Tbilisi was normalized.

After receiving consent from Major General Otar Khatiashvili, G. Maisuradze and Vice-Colonel Eldar Gikoshvili, head of the organizational and mobilization department chose one of the buildings and that was reported to O. Khatiashvili. He ordered that the subdivision of inner security together with staff of committee archive to be charged with preparing a list of documents and valuables to be evacuated, as well as the number of necessary vehicles and personnel who were to participate in this event. This plan was approved by O. Khatiashvili.

Pre-evacuation preparations were completed on Friday evening, and the evacuation of the archival documents was supposed to start on Monday. Next day – on Saturday – at approximately 7pm a duty officer of the KGB called to G. Maisuradze's appartment, and conveyed information that the evacuation of archival documents would not take place on Monday, as it had already been sent to Smolensk. Generals Edward Voytsitsky and Vitaly Novodnichy – deputies of Otar Khatiashvili - commissioned Igor Giorgadze with evacuation of the archive from the Committee to Tbilisi airport. And the latter and "his guys" faithfully fulfilled the task.

On Monday morning, G. Maisuradze and E. Gikoshvili felt it to be their duty to speak with Chairman of the Committee Otar Khatiashvili, who was in a bad mood. A short dialogue about the incident took place between them.

We do not know whether Igor Giorgadze was chosen to carry out the evacuation of archive documentation by the two abovementioned Russian generals, or such order came from the centre. We only know that General O. Khatiashvili had not submitted the issue of the temporary evacuation of archival materials to Moscow for approval. And that was a violation of existing instructions, as this issue had to be definitely agreed with the leadership of central KGB. Likelihood that Moscow was losing control over these materials was high. As soon as the Kremlin emissaries - Generals Eduard Voytsitsky and Vitaly Novodnichy felt danger of this they applied to central KGB for preparation of orders, according to which, in 1990, ultimately, operational files stored in the operational divisions such as personal and work cases of agents and entire operational archive were taken to Smolensk. Similar measures have been implemented in the autonomous republics of Georgia.

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