30 senior officials with a file, 4 of them are part of the new judicial institutions. How is it possible that 29 years after the overthrow of the communist regime and after three commissions were set up to investigate the integrity of senior officials, the “ghosts” of the former secret services are still present? Who is defending them? 120 thousand files were opened and they showed that 1 in 4 Albanians were linked to the former secret services. Files that have gone missing, abuse with power and repercussions on our society. An analysis by Roland Qafoku
By Roland Qafoku
29 years after the arrival of pluralism, former secret services continue to leave their mark in the structures of the Albanian state. The declaration made by the head of the authority in charge of the files of former secret services, Gentiana Sula, according to which 30 senior officials have a file, is alarming and irritating at the same time. The situation becomes even more alarming knowing that 4 of these people are part of the new justice institutions. Bujar Sheshi’s case made us realize that former secret services continue to play a role 3 decades later. These services continue to be present in the Albanian state structures, showing what the true weapon of dictatorship is still capable of doing. What really happened in this country? How is it possible that former officers and agents of the secret services continue to be part of today’s state structures?
How is it possible that they have the courage to penetrate in the highest levels of the administration and how is it possible that they are applying for the highest positions of the justice system? How is it possible that these former agents are still present in the system, despite the fact that three screening commissions were set up? Who protects them and who encourages them to be part of the state structures?
120 thousand files were opened in 48 years. We saw how 1 in 4 Albanians had a file and these numbers do not include those who acted as party voluntaries at that time. The secret service has turned into a real plague for society.
RECORD NUMBER: 1 IN 4 ALBANIANS HAVE A FILE WITH SECRET SERVICES
Albania may be considered as the most unique case in the communist east. Although the model that applied during that time was a Russian-Stalinist one, the country managed to exceed the boundaries of this model. Established on 10 December 1944, the former secret services ceased to exist on 2 July 1991. In a country of 800 thousand people which had just come out of World War II, in its 48 years of existence, the secret service managed to open 120 thousand files which included agents, collaborators and the entire information network inside of Albania and outside of it. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 Albanians during that time were linked to former secret services in a way or another. The activity of this service caused many sufferings for around 100 thousand Albanians, including executions, imprisonment and deportation.
According to official figures, the secret service murdered and executed 958 people without a trial. This is the highest number of crimes committed by a secret service considering the number of the country’s population. Meanwhile, the bloodiest year for the former secret service was 1945, when the number of arrested people considered to be political opponents of Enver Hoxha amounted to 5021.
The first file of the secret services was opened by UNRRA, a humanitarian American organization that brought aids to Albania. This is a significant element if we consider the fact that the US was declared Albania’s no. 1 enemy at that time.
Meanwhile, the first personal file that was opened by the secret service was the one against Ahmet Zogu, who had left Albania on 7 April 1939. Zogu was considered to be Enver Hoxha’s enemy, who threatened overthrow him from power.
During its existence, the secret service had 9 directors: Koçi Xoxe, Nesti Kerënxhi, Vaskë Koleci, Beqir Ndou, Kadri Hazbiu, Mihallaq Ziçishti, Feçor Shehu, Kadri Gojashi and Zylyftar Ramizi. To understand the ruthless nature of this service, suffice to say that the system didn’t even spare the heads of this service. All the heads of this service ended tragically. They have either been arrested or executed. Eight of them were accused and convicted by the security service and the communist regime. The last director, Zylyftar Ramizi was sentenced to death in 1993 and in 1997 he was pardoned. The security service also had files for those who would be activated once the communist regime was overthrown. Who were they and are they active today? This may be considered as the most naive question in the world, but when we consider the fact that today, in 2019, 30 former agents are still part of the state’s administration, then the question is not that naive.
THE COURAGE OF THE FORMER AGENTS
The Authority for Information of former Secret Service Files was the third commission in history after the overthrow of the communist regime. The first one was the commission led by Hajri Mezini in 1995 and the second one was the commission that was led by Nafiz Bezhani set up on 18 August 1997. This commission did an extraordinary professional work and was not influenced by politics. At that time, Nazif Bezhani had declared that he and the commission that he chaired had verified 6 thousand files of the former secret service. Although this number was not very high compared to the 120 thousand files that the secret service had opened, it must be stressed that the former agents were removed without the influence of politicians, but just based on the materials found in the files. Bezhani’s work led to the resignation of the general director of prisons, several important ambassadors and prominent journalists of the state run television.
In diplomacy alone, Bezhani discovered 110 former collaborators of the secret service and this was something extraordinary for that time.
THE DISSAPEARANCE OF THE FILES
In 2006, the former head of SHIK, Bashkim Gazidede publicly declared that 10 thousand files of the secret service had gone missing. This was also confirmed by Nazif Bezhani during the time he was in charge of the commission. Meanwhile, former SHIK director, Irakli Koçollari, who was also the first director of secret services after the overthrow of the communist regime, has dismissed this declaration by saying that no files had gone missing. According to him, every copy is in the archive. In this debate, which has lasted for the past 30 years, it looks like people who have been in power have done whatever they pleased with these files. This is why parliament should have given more access to the Authority for Information on the Files in order to learn and verify this important element. Perhaps this debate will continue and those who are more interested on this are the ones who have had a file with the secret service.
Did the former secret services have good people within their ranks? We still don’t know if there have been individual cases of this kind, but before we ask such questions, the Albanian society needs to rid itself of all the cruelties committed by the secret service. Albania is yet to do this and for as long we’re in this phase, we cannot afford to ask such questions.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy