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Disclosure of employees of security organisations of the states that have occupied Estonia

The Parliament adopted on 6 February 1995 and President Lennart Meri proclaimed on 20 February "The Procedure for Registration and Disclosure of Persons who Have Served in or Cooperated with Intelligence or Counter-intelligence Organisations of Security Organisations or Military Forces of States which Have Occupied Estonia Act". The Act was published in the State Gazette on 28 February 1995 and it entered into force one month after its publication, on 28 March 1995.

According to the explanatory memorandum of the draft Act introduced to the Parliament, the persons who had served in or cooperated with intelligence organisations, especially with the intelligence services of the Soviet Union, posed to a lesser or greater extent a threat to the security of the Republic of Estonia since they can be easily blackmailed or recruited again by foreign intelligence organisations due to their past. The Republic of Estonia did not possess any documentation on the structure and functions of the ESSR State Security Committee (RJK) or the lists of retired and released security officials. At the same time the re-established state needed to have all the information on the composition and agency of the security and intelligence organisations that had operated on its territory. The aim of the Act was not to punish anybody pursuant to criminal procedure or in any other form because of their past but to ensure sufficient national control over the persons who had collaborated with the security organisations - to identify as many of the persons as possible as well as their activities in intelligence organisations and to give them a chance to settle their relations with the state on legal grounds.

Hence, the aim of collecting information on the persons who had served in or cooperated with security and intelligence organisations was the protection of the independence and security of the Republic of Estonia. The persons who had collaborated with the aforesaid organisations were given the chance for a voluntary confession within one year after the entry into force of the Act in order to ensure fast registration and to enhance national security. It was established that the persons who had collaborated will be disclosed after the expiry of the date by the announcement of the Estonian Internal Security Service. The persons who made a voluntary confession minimalised duly the possible threat related to them and displayed loyalty to the state and constitutional order. The loyalty of the persons who failed to act accordingly was called into question, therefore the legislator protected as state secret the data of the persons who had confessed, contrary to those who chose to conceal their cooperation and were posing a threat to national security. The disclosure of the persons has also the aspect of public interest inasmuch as the activities conducted here are part of our history and common memory. Speaking about the past helps to establish transparency, clarity and overall internal peace of the society.

The Act lists by name the central organs of the intelligence and counterintelligence services of the security and intelligence organisations or the military forces of the German State and the Union of SSR. The structures subordinated to them in occupied Estonia copied as a rule the structure and name of the central agency. Establishing the position of a person to be registered and disclosed, or in other words establishing the local structural unit of the central agency in compliance with the law and the burden of proof thereof lies with the Estonian Internal Security Service.

The central agencies of the time of German occupation in 1941-1944 were the following: III, IV and VI Departments of the Reich Main Security Office; the Office of Defence (Abwehr) at the High Command of the Armed Forces (report of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against Humanity (IKUERK) "German Occupation in Estonia in 1941-1944"

The repressive security organs of the Union of SSR altered their structure and names during World War II and arising from "internal policy needs":

The Main Directorate of State Security of the USSR People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (in Russian NKVD) in 1934-1943 (except February-July 1941),

The USSR People's Commissariat for State Security (in Russian NKGB) from February to July 1941 and in 1943-1946,

The Chief Counterintelligence Directorate of the USSR People's Commissariat of Defence ("Smersh") in 1943-1946,

The USSR Ministry of State Security (in Russian MGB) in 1946-1953,

The Main Directorate of State Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR (in Russian MVD) in 1953-1954,

Starting from March 1954 up to 1991 the USSR State Security Committee (RJK, in Russian KGB) and special departments of the army, naval force and border guard forces (military counterintelligence) subordinated to it and the USSR Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (in Russian GRU, military intelligence).

The most well-known of these is the USSR KGB and its structural unit the Estonian SSR RJK which operated in Estonia until 31 December 1991. (see IKUERK reports on Soviet occupations "Soviet Occupation in Estonia in 1941-1941" and "Soviet Occupation in Estonia since 1944".

Service in a security or intelligence organisation means employment as a staff employee of the organisation. Cooperation means being an agent, resident, keeper of a conspirational flat and being a trustee of the organisation or cooperating in any other way knowingly and voluntarily with the organisation without having had labour law relationships with it.

Serving in security organisations or cooperating with them is not a crime pursuant to the Estonian law, for which reason the Act does not distinguish between offices and duties (military personnel or civilians, operational staff or the so-called operating personnel like drivers, support staff etc.) and does not criminalise their professional activity. Explanatory memorandum to the draft Act justifies that „[...] there have been cases when persons were officially hired as support staff but in reality were directly engaged in intelligence gathering and surveillance activities. Therefore each particular case has to be dealt with on the grounds of the activity (acts) of a particular person. For the same reason it is not possible to define the concept [...] „to cooperate in any other way knowingly and voluntarily" since the fact about cooperation with an organisation needs to be addressed as unique." It was not possible to present in the Act an exhaustive list of offices of the security organisations subject to disclosure since an office does not always reflect or enable to evaluate the person's activity.

Mass repressions of both states - Nazi Germany and the Union of SSR - have been studied by historians and law enforcement agencies and they are generally known whereas we are less informed about the conspiring activities of the officials and agency of the later USSR MGB/KGB and its local structural unit the Estonian SSR RJM/RJK, the prime goal of which was continuous consolidation of the occupation power, prevention of any democratic movement, human rights and freedoms as well as the prevention of the re-establishment of the Republic of Estonia. After the Republic of Estonia regained its independence and RJK was liquidated in autumn 1991, many former security officials stayed here and posed a security threat to the re-established state against which they had directly or indirectly acted in their daily work. The former security officials who stayed here (broadly speaking, the employees and military personnel of all former power structures) retained in this new and for them insecure situation contacts with their former schoolmates and colleagues here and in Russia.  Many of them continued work in the special services of the Russian Federation that were restructured on the basis of KGB and they started immediately to establish positions here through their former employees and contacts. The more solidly Estonia integrated into the European Union and NATO, the more actively the special services of the Russian Federation SVR, FSB and GRU operated here by using their former and local contacts. A regrettable but a vivid example is the case of H. Simm.