Ukraine: Secret service publishes Stalin files

Stalin-era file released by Ukraine Image copyright SBU
Image caption The top secret file, with Ukrainian 'declassified' stamp

Ukraine's SBU security service has published "top secret", Stalin-era files that Russia does not want to release.

The SBU chief archivist, Ihor Kulyk, says his colleagues recently read on Facebook that - at the request of Russia's FSB security service - a court in Moscow denied Russian historian Sergei Prudovsky access to look at a cache of documents dealing with Japan's efforts to recruit right-wing Russian emigres as spies.

After hearing about the case, the archivist "decided to help the Russian researcher by publishing the document in question" - since there was a copy in the Kiev vaults, Ukraine's Centre for the Study of the Liberation Movement reports. "It is purely of historical value, and so in Ukraine access to it cannot be denied," the Ukrainian archivist says, adding that anyone interested can drop by the SBU archives and have a look at the file.

The papers, which were signed off in 1937 by Stalin's notorious secret police chief Nikolai Yezhov, look at the community of tens of thousands of Russians who fled the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and escaped to Harbin - a Japanese-occupied Chinese city on the Soviet border.

But in 1935, thousands of Harbin Russians fled back in to the Soviet Union to escape the Japanese occupation. According to Russia's Memorial Society, which publishes material on Soviet political oppression, 48,133 of those people were arrested on charges of having spied for Japan, and 30,992 of the "Harbinites" were later shot.

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