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Focus on Europe

Latvia: The KGB's bitter legacy

When Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union, the KGB spied on tens of thousands of Latvians. But only now are authorities asking whether the names of spies should be made public.

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KGB headquarters in Riga, which locals called "the house on the corner," was where the Moscow regime detained and tortured troublesome Latvians. Often, they ended up in labor camps in Siberia. In May 1990, the last prisoners were released from the building. It wasn't necessary to be a dissident to attract the attention of the KGB and be sent to a Gulag for years. Those arrested in Riga as "enemies of the state" included the members of a reading circle who drew suspicion for their interest in French literature. Today, the victims of the KGB are allowed to see their files, but can only speculate about who spied on them.