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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia to open archive but foreigners must pay

The government will open a large number of secret files from the former Communist Party archives this Friday, but for foreign researchers they will be available only at a price.


Mikhail Poltoranin, press minister and head of a special commission appointed by President Boris Yeltsin to declassify the documents, told journalists at a press conference announcing the opening of the files that access would be available for a small sum.


He was answering journalists who said that stiff fees for use of the archives was turning them away.


Said Toby Latta, a correspondent for the Toronto Star who received a bill for $12, 000, "Not one of us sitting here will be able to look at documents in your archives at such prices".


Latta, who has researched links between the Soviet and Canadian Communist parties since the archives were opened in March, originally agreed to pay "a small amount" in standard archive fees.


Poltoranin, who agreed that $12, 000 was an "exorbitant amount", promised the commission would examine and set fees in accordance with those charged for archive work in Western countries.


At stake is access to files which include evidence of the Communist Party's support for foreign Communist organizations as well as details on the work of KGB agents abroad.


Although Latta's bill was admitted to be an accounting error, it raises questions about the right of Russian organizations to charge foreign journalists for access to information. The Foreign Correspondent's Association will publish a list Wednesday of Russian organizations and officials who charge Western journalists for interviews and access to information.


Administrators at the Center for the Preservation of Contemporary Documents say they have a right to charge a fee for services their staff renders.