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Experts gain data on compatriots interned in Soviet Union

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Prague, Sept 27 (CTK) – The Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) received thousands of records about Czechoslovak citizens interned in camps in the former Soviet Union on Wednesday, which is the first time Moscow has enabled to export these data from its archives outside Russian soil.

USTR director Zdenek Hazdra symbolically took the documents from head of the SNP (Slovak National Uprising) Museum, Stanislav Micev. The Slovak museum gained the data from Moscow.

The documents reveal the fates of Czechs and Slovaks who went through the system of the Chief Administration of Military Prisoners and Interned Persons (GUPVI) that focused on soldiers. It was similar to the GULAG (Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps) for civilians.

The records given to the USTR are in the form of cards from a card index with basic data on the people who were taken by force to Soviet concentration camps.

“They may be immensely significant for the relatives and survivors who have not been able to track down the data on their late family members so far,” USTR spokesman Pavel Ryjacek said.

According to available data, 69,977 Czechoslovak citizens, including two generals and 159 military officers, went through Soviet internment and prisoner-of-war camps in 1941-45, while 4,023 died there, Micev said.

He added that the data on the number of the people interned in these camps varied since the prisoners-of-war had not always been registered duly,

Thanks to the newly obtained documents, data on more than 34,000 will be available.

Hazdra pointed out that the gaining of the records had also moral and human aspects since it would enable to find out where the people who had not returned from the camps home were buried.

So far, the USTR experts have studied some 1000 cards.

The SNP Museum, the USTR and other institutions were negotiating with Russia about the transfer of these records for several years.

The data were stored in the Russian State Military Archive, which is the largest storage site of military history documents from the Soviet era. It houses documents of the Red Army and the armed forces of the secret police (KGB).

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