FSB and the Supreme Court ignored the order of their declassification
The Constitutional Court (CC) has published a decision on the appeal of the historian Nikita Petrov, which should ensure the access of citizens to the most socially important papers, but secrecy for more than 30 years ago. According to the law “On State Secrets” longer term storage of secrets is possible only in exceptional cases. FSB and the Supreme Court (SC) considered this rule inactive until 2023, on the grounds that the law came into force on 21 September 1993. However, the COP confirmed that a state secret Soviet archives term classification mainly has expired.
Deputy Chairman of the Scientific Information and Educational Center “Memorial” Nikita Petrov turned to the Constitutional Court in the spring of last year, after he was refused a familiarization with the three orders of the MGB to conduct research on the activities of the Commissioner of the NKVD-MGB in Germany in the years 1945-1953. During the proceedings in which the historian asked to recognize the refusal of the FSB and its interesting to oblige declassify documents that supported the agency Moscow City Court and the Supreme Court ignored the art. 13 of the Law “On State Secrets”, according to which the period of classification shall not exceed 30 years. This period may be extended only in exceptional cases, and not by the agency to classify the document, and the Interdepartmental Commission for the protection of state secrets, led by presidential adviser Sergei Grigorov, activities led by Vladimir Putin himself. FSB so the committee at the time of the delay requested archive did not have orders, but 30-year term of classification has long expired. Thus, according to the applicant, the legal grounds for refusing to declassify the documents were missing.
However, the courts of general jurisdiction have agreed with departments and archives, who believe that the time limit is not applicable in general to archival material classified up to September 21, 1993 – the date of entry into force of the law “On State Secrets”. Practically, this means that the rate of mass lost relevance declassification of secrets will be put into practice until 2023, and the document of the USSR and the first three years of post-Soviet Russia deadline scramble absent. This approach makes it inaccessible to the vast amount of research archives of the Soviet period.
Referring to the Constitutional Court, Mr Petrov asked to recognize applied in his case interpretation of the law “On State Secrets” and based on it the practice of courts and agencies unconstitutional. The complaint in this case and sent to the European Court of Human Rights.
COP eventually took legal position, the opposite conclusion Sun In determining the COP stated that “the literal meaning of” contested rules 30-year classification shall apply in respect of information classified as a state secret, “both before and after the entry into force” of the law “On State Secrets”. However, to assess the constitutionality of the law of the Supreme Court, which in recent years has led to a direct confrontation of positions higher courts, the Constitutional Court, this time refused, saying that such a test “according to the actual circumstances of the case to the competence of the COP is.”Moreover, “in itself, this rule seeks to maintain a balance between the security of the state and the right of citizens to be informed and not be seen as violating the rights of the applicant in this case.”
Representing the interests of the applicant’s freedom of information specialists of the Fund intend to seek review of decisions of courts of general jurisdiction based on the position of the COP. According to a senior lawyer Daria Dry Fund, the scale of the problems show precedents of requests not only for researchers, but also citizens who FSB refused to become familiar with the affairs of the repressed in the Soviet era relatives. “It turns out that all of these documents may be stored in a secret forever, until the agency itself is not deemed necessary to declassify them. Check his conclusions impossible – to conduct an alternative examination by having access to state secrets experts court refused us,” – said Ms. Dry.
Despite the failure of the COP in the hearing, the head of the Freedom of Information Foundation lawyer Ivan Pavlov satisfied with the result. “Court decision will help achieve public interest declassification of documents. Still maximum security classification was not respected everywhere. Now it is possible to oppose the position of the COP, – said” Y “lawyer. – Our Secret Keeper can think of and even some reason, just to all keep a secret storage. But today their arsenal decreased. ”
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