Enhancing Openness of State Archives in Former Soviet Republics

Projects | Completed Projects 2 November 2017



Name of Grant Activity: Enhancing Openness of State Archives in Former Soviet Republics

Donor Organization: Open Society Institute Budapest Foundation (OSI)

Grant Recipient: Institute for Development of Freedom of Information

Total Grant Amount: 84,155.5 USD

Project Number:  OR2017-34436

Period of Performance: November 1, 2017 – October 31, 2018




Access to the Soviet archives and archival documents remains contentious topic among many post-Soviet countries. The transition to democracy and rethinking of Soviet past proceeded with different pace and path in former Soviet republics. These differences determined the state policies toward archives. In many countries, documents of Soviet era remain classified, and archives are not accessible to scholars and historians. Others opened up only partially.


During the 70 years of the Soviet rule, history was used as an ideological weapon devoid of any real facts, truths and full with falsifications, misinterpretations, and communist postulates. The only space where communists were truthful and honest was “Secret” and “Top Secret” documents that Soviet bureaucrats circulated among top level of government and ruling elite.


The correct and precise examination of the Soviet past o is cornerstone of proper rethinking of the Soviet past. The newly published archival documents will help to improve historiography, shape the collective memory of the nation, and counter myths and lies perpetuated by many neo-Stalinists and the contemporary Kremlin propaganda.  It is impossible to have a valid written history of 20th century of any Soviet country without studying the archives.


Project Description


The overarching goal of the project is to ensure openness of Soviet archives in the post-Soviet space. This goal is to be attained by several objectives and activities. Firstly, a network of scholars and NGOs working on issues of Soviet archive openness will be created during the conference planned within the framework of the project. Additionally, a thorough study on the issues of post-Soviet space in terms of archive openness will be conducted to have clear vision on how and where to advocate for more openness. 


As a result of the project, a single standard of openness of archives will be promoted in post-Soviet space covering not only access to archives, but the format in which the data will be available. Hence, digital format of the archival documents will be promoted and enhanced. Additionally, a network of scholars will be established to improve the practice of exchanging archival materials among countries. Collective cross-country scholarly work on openness of archives, as well as archival findings will be stimulated. Establishment of connections between the archives of post-Soviet States will accelerate the research cooperation and transfer of needed documentation. Network established in the framework of the organized conference will work further on advocacy, and sharing experience on legal and practical aspects of access to archives, also initiating joint research projects on Soviet Studies among the participant countries.




- Create a network of scholars/NGOs in post-Soviet space working on the issues of Soviet Archive openness

- Promote openness of archives in the post-Soviet space




- Reach out to potential partners in post-soviet space: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Central Asian states, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation.

- Organize a conference in Tbilisi on openness of archives in participant states, international best practice in terms of archive accessibility, inter-agency cooperation and scholars as mediators between state entities.

- Create a study on soviet archive openness in post-soviet states.

- Create a website for publishing studies on archival openness in post-Soviet space.




Final Report

Activities Carried Out Withing the Project