While preparing research in regards to the Soviet era, rector of Vidzeme University Gatis Krumins found folders in the piles of documents of the Bank of Latvia detailing payments performed by Latvia to the treasury of the Soviet Union.
«I was shocked as a researcher. Because I had expected that everything in relation to military affairs had been transported away long ago. Nothing is available here. No one knows anything. And then I noticed all the documents detailing finances and transactions that had taken place in Latvia – military budgets, budget expenditures and investments – are right there. All of them standing right there. Reports of the central accounting office. Who could possibly find that interesting? It is only logical to assume no one. No one has even glanced at them. The moment I saw them it became clear to me there is great potential for a fundamental study. I then began classifying those documents to better understand their system. I came to the conclusion that all documents detailing every last penny are there. All the way from 1946 to 1991,» – Krumins told Nekā personīga.
The researcher had also found documents of similar worth in Lithuania and Estonia. For example, materials uncovered from the Lithuanian archive reveal that after WWII USSR annually spent approximately half a billion rubles on repressive institutions in Latvia’s neighbouring country, which was significantly more when compared with the total spent in Latvia and Estonia. This money was used to finance KGB and the army, which were tasked with liquidating Lithuania’s national resistance movement.
More important discoveries apply to Latvia. Exact numbers in budget reports show that the country was exactly not rolling in money generously provided by Moscow during the Soviet era. Documents state that Latvia had paid more money to USSR than it had received from it.
«The total amount accumulated by Latvia was 85 billion roubles. 44.3 billion roubles was allocated to the budget of Latvian SSR. 40.6 billion roubles was provided to USSR. Some part of this amount had returned. What returned was 24.7 billion. The difference is 15.9 billion. The Soviet propaganda avoided this topic. No mention of the amount that left (40.6 billion roubles). They said nothing of the army and KGB (13.3 billion roubles). They did say the budget of Latvian SSR was being subsidized. There were also other expenditures – 7.3 billion. That is the infrastructure and the union’s companies. What is important to keep in mind is that the amount that went away is much larger. The amount that did return was much smaller. What did return was later used for the army. This is the fundamental difference the documents show and prove,» – Krumins said.
Copies of documents prepared by the central bank of USSR are kept in archives in Moscow. Krumins’ acquaintances in historian circles have inspected documents and have found that numbers detailed in them are the same as those mentioned in copies in Riga.
«When I presented this to my colleagues, those people stood up and exclaimed – this cannot be. My first reaction after looking at those documents was the same. I thought to myself – did I mix something up? Did I misunderstand something? But that is exactly what propaganda programs in us – if you’re told something enough times, we accept is as the truth. This is what the propaganda machine is built for, and Russia understands this well. This programming is already deep in us,» – said the researcher.
Russian ambassador in Latvia Aleksandr Veshnyakov spoke evasively of the findings. According to him, those documents prove nothing. «Documents, well…There are many different historian. There are different documents. I have not analysed those documents from different viewpoints. I would not recommend analysing them only from a single perspective,» – said the ambassador.
The newly-discovered documents will significantly assist the commission tasked with researching the extent of the damage done to Latvia by the Soviet occupation. The cost estimated so far is large – EUR 300 billion. That is the estimated extent of the damage done to the economy. Soon the commission will publish the extent of the damage done to the environment.
One year ago, Baltic justice minister agreed that losses from the Soviet occupation would be recalculated for all three countries and that they would submit a joint request to Russia. This could happen in the next couple of years.
«In 2020, all three Baltic States could develop a joint action package. We have begun working on legal justification this year. This is nothing simple. It is a complicated matter. We also study other associated matters and ways to submit it to appropriate institutions,» – comments member of the commission Ruta Pazdere.
One of the associated matters applies to deported Latvian residents. Former human rights court judge Ineta Ziemele agrees that Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania can develop such an action. But before this can be done, we need to clarify a few things – do we really want to determine the consequences of the Soviet regime. Leaders of state and diplomats are prepared to support it.