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Russian Supreme Court upholds presidential decree on classifying NKVD employment records

The Russian Supreme Court has deemed lawful a 1995 presidential decree that classified information about NKVD employees involved in Stalin-era repressions. 

As reported by Novaya Gazeta, this decision was made on Wednesday, December 8, during a Supreme Court hearing on a claim filed by historian Sergey Prudovsky.

In his lawsuit, the historian argued that decree No. 1203 was drafted in such a way that it allows for classifying NKVD employees as counterintelligence officers, whose personal data is not subject to disclosure. 

Federal Security Service (FSB) officers, who represented the president in the case before the Supreme Court, insisted that repealing the decree’s provisions would endanger Russia’s defense capacity.

In 2019, FSB branches in Russia’s Ivanovo and Tula regions denied historian Sergey Prudovsky access to NKVD archives from 1937–1938 (the height of Stalin’s Great Terror) on the basis of decree No. 1203. The FSB officers claimed that disclosing the names of NKVD employees could “entail incitement to national, racial, or religious hatred or enmity.”

Together with other plaintiffs, Prudovsky previously challenged the ban on access to archival information about NKVD employees who were not rehabilitated at the level of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rejected the claim. 

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