When Kestutis Dziautas enrolled in Moscow's KGB college in 1985, he wasn't aware, he says, of the Soviet secret police's role in executing and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of fellow Lithuanians decades earlier. Likewise, he says, he didn't know that KGB agents were still the feared foot soldiers of a ruthless regime.
But neither his claim of naivete, nor the fact that he spent only four months working for the KGB before the fall of communism, was enough to spare him: A 1999 law aimed at punishing and rooting out ex-KGB operatives like Mr. Dziautas banned them from a wide range of public- and private-sector jobs for 10 years.
So Dziautas and three comrades took their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg - and won. In 2004 and 2005 verdicts, the court declared Lithuania's "KGB Act" a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights, specifically the right to work...
The issue is typically used as a weapon - in Lithuania as elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe - by a nationalist right-wing pandering to its base by pummeling the left-wing, the historic heir to the Communist Party.
"I think this issue will come up again and again, as long as former communists of any seniority are still around," says Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington and author of "The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence..."
For the complete article, please visit The Christian Science Monitor website.