Open-Archives.org is an online platform offering an interactive ranking of archival openness from post-Soviet countries. The platform also includes blogs on archive related issues, methodology by which the assessment is done as well as research findings on existing archival legislations and practices in target countries.
The research was carried out by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) in cooperation with its partners from participant countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Tadjikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
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 propaganda. It is impossible to have a valid written history of 20th century of any Soviet country without studying the archives.
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 we created a network of scholars and NGOs working on issues of Soviet archive openness 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 has been 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. 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.
The project is being implemented by the following organizations and independent scholars:
Hranush Kharatyan – Historian, archivist. Has worked as a head of archives direction of - Armenian Center for Ethnological Studies. At the moment is working on the publication of the book of memory of deportation of Armenians in 1949 in cooperation with the National Archives of Armenia.
Eldar Zeynalov - Human rights activist and journalist. Has experience of working in the Archive of Political Documents of Azerbaijan (former united Azerbaijan Communist party archive). Founding director of NGO -.
Dmitriy Drozd - Historian, archivist, publicist, photographer (the member of the Union of Photographers of Belarus). Researcher of the Belarusian Center. Author of six books and hundreds of articles. In 2016 won human rights award in the Journalist of the Year nomination.
Momchil Metodiev - Editor in Chief of the Christianity and Culture Journal and Research Fellow at the Institute for Studies of the Recent Past, Sofia, Bulgaria. He took part in the compilation of several documentary collections published by the Bulgarian Dossier Commission and has worked for several Bulgarian and international projects researching the communist past.
Pavel Zacek - MP of the Czech Republic and the Lecturer at CEVRO Institute. He served as the first Director of the Czech government agency and research Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, investigating the crimes of the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia.
Anton Vatcharadze - Archives and Soviet Studies Direction Head - of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) – Organization based in Tbilisi, Georgia, which promotes human rights and good governance by raising civic awareness through sound informational reports, research and policy recommendations.
Sandor Horvath - Head of Department for Contemporary History and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; The primary coordinator of the international research project COURAGE - "Cultural Opposition – Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries"; The founding editor of the Hungarian Historical Review.
Araylim Musagallieva (in 2018) – Professor of the department of history of Kazakhstan in the . The subject of her doctoral theses, "Documents of funds of the central and local archives as a source on history of political repressions in Kazakhstan" are linked with archival sources. Has worked in all archives of Kazakhstan including regime archives.
Alexandra Tsay (in 2019) - Independent research fellow in cultural studies and an art curator based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Is Memory Studies Specialist and has worked in the archives of Kazakhstan
Nurbek Toktakunov – Human rights activist, lawyer, Director of the The main directions of the organization are: administrative legal proceedings, access to information, transparency of the state budget, public administration in the field of judicial system.
Vytautas Staricovicius - Lecturer at Vilnius University, Department of History. He also works at the Lithuanian Museums' Centre of Information, Digitisation, and LIMIS. Vytautas Staricovicius is a historian researching the Soviet history, politics of history and memory culture in Central and Eastern Europe.
Baltic International Academy. He is an author of various research papers on the recent history of Baltic States.
Igor Casu – Historian. Director of the Center for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Professor of the State University of Moldova. Has years of working experience in archives.
Małgorzata Łukianow - Assistant professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences and Managing editor at "ASK: Research and Methods". She has worked on the project “Formation of social memory in post-migration communities”.
University of Bucharest. He is an author of a number of articles on the history of Communist Romania.
Lawyer. Has worked on related issues of freedom of information and human rights. Member of which is advocating on access to the information from the state institutions and data protection.
Parviz Mullojonov – Historian at Whitman College and the Former Chairman of the Board of the Tajik branch of the OSI. He has been one of the country’s active civil society activists since the middle of the 90’s. Has worked for various international agencies and organizations such as Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, UNCHR, UNDP and ADB.
Igor Chernichenko (in 2018) – , Historian. Is engaged in systematization of archive of CSO and takes part in the research of history of political repressions during the post-Stalin period.
Anna Oliinik (in 2019) - Director of the Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement. Anna participated in our conference in 2018 and presented about the public initiatives and cooperation with state archives in Ukraine
Historian (in 2018). Has worked in Samarkand and Tashkent state archives for several years. Has implemented several projects in Uzbekistan. He has also worked as a researcher in different archives.
Historian (in 2019). Has worked in state archives. Graduate Student at the Institute of Asian and African Studies in one of the European Universities.
Open-Archives.org was created and is run by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) with the financial support of the Open Society Institute - Budapest Foundation (OSI).