The head of the Institute for the Study of the Crimes of Communism, Agron Tufa, told BIRN on Tuesday that legal changes proposed by ten Socialist Party MPs to stop the institute probing events that took place during WWII were unacceptable.
The Albanian parliament is currently reviewing the country’s law that regulates the study of communism with the aim of banning the study of WWII as part of the Communist period, and is also demanding that the 15 people employed at the institute get security clearance.
The proposed legislation states that “the Communist regime cannot be linked with the Anti-Fascist and National Liberation War [WWII]” because the “elimination of political enemies only started after the war”.
The legislation also aims, according to an explanatory note attached to it, to “have trusted people handling classified information”.
For that reason, the institute’s employees must obtain clearance from a security institution under the supervision of the prime minister, it says.
But Tufa told BIRN that the proposed changes were “typical Sigurimi [Directorate of State Security, Albania’s much-feared former intelligence service] techniques” and demonstrated a “Communist-era mentality” to the writing of history.
“We are being treated as a structure of the secret services and not as an institution for the study of history,” he said.
He said he suspects that one of the reasons why security clearance is being demanded is a smear campaign against him, started in the media by Socialists who claimed he is a Russian spy.
Tufa, 52, is a writer who graduated from the University of Tirana and the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow.
The Institute of the Study of the Crimes of Communism was created in 2010 by a special law and has published several books on Communist rule in the country.
But a few months ago, Spartak Braho, a Socialist Party MP who was a judge in the Communist era, accused Tufa of insulting the anti-fascist resistance during WWII through the publication of books that claim that war crimes were committed by Communist guerrilla fighters.
After that, Braho and other Socialist Party MPs proposed the changes in the law that governs the institute’s work.
“Normally they could just fire me and take over the institute,” Tufa said.
“But the fact that they want to suggest that I will not get the security clearance as a cause for firing me, along with the ‘Russian spy’ conspiracy theory, shows the Communist mentality and the Sigurimi techniques,” he added.
He also accused the institute’s critics of wanting the writing of history to be “something belonging to the security services and not to scholars”.