Openness of State Archives in Former Soviet Republics

News | Research | Soviet Studies | Publications 31 October 2018

In 2017, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), together with an international network of archive experts and with the financial support from the Open Society Institute - Budapest Foundation, developed a methodology to evaluate the openness of state archives. The evaluation was done on 20 state archives in 10 post-Soviet countries.

 

The evaluation methodology, covers key legal and practical aspects of archival openness. The methodology consists of 5 components:

 

- Archival legislation – the extent to which archival legislation ensures openness of state archives.

 

- Other legislation related to archives – the extent to which related legislation ensures openness of state archives.

 

- Archival services – the extent to which archival services are available and in order.

 

- Archive website – the extent to which the archive website is useful for researchers.

 

- Reading hall – the extent to which reading hall regulations and practice are in order.

 

The evaluation revealed the following key findings:

 

- All 10 countries, including Georgia, require legislative reforms to ensure greater openness of archives.

 

- No well-performing archive has separate rules for domestic and foreign citizens.

 

- Well-performing archives provide written legal substantiations for refusing to grant access to documents, while underperforming archives only provide verbal explanations.

 

- Most archives of (former) law enforcement agencies do not have a website and reading hall. Ukraine and Georgia stand as exceptions.

 

- Only 2 of the 20 archives allow researchers to take photos using their own cameras in the reading halls.

 

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