Centre for Doctoral Training in Russian, Slavonic & East European languages and culture


Archive Department of the Security Service of Ukraine - Former KGB Archive

Location and Contact Details

Address: vul. Zolotovorits'ka, 7 (Reading Room)/ vul. Volodymyrs'ka, 33 (Registration)

There are two key buildings connected to working at SBU. The first is main SBU building on Volodimirs'ka Vul. where you can register. Exiting at Zoloti Vorota, you walk straight along the main road you will see, passing by the massive 'golden gate' to your left. The SBU building is on this road, on the right-hand side and is suitably impressive and unmissable. The second building is where the archive and reading room is located. This building is located on 7 Zolotovorits'ka Vul, which is parallel to Volodimirs'ka. You can get to it either by going the same route noted above, then turning left after the SBU building on to vul. Reitars'ka, following it round to the left, or you can walk straight on to this road from the metro station exit by walking straight across the square on which the golden gate is situated rather than down onto the main road. The reading room is through an unmarked pair of wooden doors in a light-coloured building flying the Ukrainian flag. The door is up a couple of steps, and is overhung by the upper floors of the building.

Metro: Zoloti vorota/ Teatral'na
Web: http://www.sbu.gov.ua/ (follow links on the left for info on the archive) Email: arhivsbu@ssu.gov.ua
Phone: (044) 256-92-96
Fax: (044) 253-13-86
Archive Director: Svitlana Petrivna Liaskovs'ka;
Deputy: Sergii Anatoliiovich Kokin
Chief archivist: Volodymyr Dmytrovych Hovorun

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 1000 - 1700
In practice, the reading room may close earlier if there are very few people working there. The sanitarnyi den' is the last working day of the month, but it's best in all things with the SBU archive to ask the archivist.

How to Register

This is not an easy archive to get into. You should email them 3 months in advance (but expect no response) explaining who you are, your tema and the kind of materials you would like to use. You should also request to use your laptop in the reading room at this point. Viktor Aleksandrovich Tikhomirov is the person who will receive your email and pass it on to the director and then eventually provide the propusk. If you would like to speak with him directly you can call 044-2569-588. Your usual letter of introduction will not be sufficient here - you need to have a letter of support from a Ukrainian institution. The best place to get this is the National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine (the Institute of History is within this). They are very supportive of research and openness in the archives and are concerned to stop any encroachments on this freedom. You should get in touch with Hennadii Boriak, a director of the Institute of History, and arrange a meeting with him (he speaks English and is happy to speak Russian if need be). With this letter and your passport, you can then attempt registration. Go to the first building noted above, next to the main SBU building. There are two offices before the turnstile inside, and you should knock on one of these doors (if it's not a lunch break - ask the people behind the glass in the waiting room). Inside you can present your letter to an SBU employee who will talk to you a bit and tell you to wait a few days before phoning them to find out if your application for access has been accepted. If you are successful, then you can proceed to the archive thereafter, but it's best to phone the archivist to announce your intention first. Alternatively, you can also speak Giorgii Smirnov about working in the archives. He is the person who knows most about the archive and its holdings. He also can facilitate your registration process. It's possible on the first visit you'll have to do the abovementioned process, but on subsequent trips if you send an email and then contact Smirnov directly, you should get access. He can be reached through the following number: 044-2569-406. A woman will answer the phone - just ask for him. When you are finally invited to work go to the building on Zolotovorits'ka, enter, and you will immediately find yourself at a turnstile. You will need to have an archivist come to meet you in order to get into the archive, so it's best to phone the reading room in advance and explain who you are and that you want to start work. There is a phone to the right just inside the doors - dial 9406, explain you are going to reading room and someone will meet you. You will have to do this every day because the SBU archive does not issue propuski and, even though your name will be added to the guards' list of authorised people, you have to be accompanied into the building by a staff member. However, you are allowed to leave to have lunch and then return - just make this intention clear to the guards.

How to Order Material

There are no official order forms, and instead you should write down a list of the files you want to order on a blank sheet of paper, or otherwise do what the archivist tells you he wants. The average wait is 1-2 days. The maximum order is 10 files per day.

Reading Room Practices, General Hints and Tips

The reading room is small and often fills up, though the archivist will reserve a desk for you with your materials on it if you show diligence. It is not possible to see the opisi in this archive. It runs in the old fashioned way of telling the archivists what your interests are and what sort of documents you want to see and they will then bring you material they think is relevant. This can still be very productive, so don't be put off. Volodymyr Dmytrovych is very friendly and quite intellectual as well as more proactively helpful than most archivists elsewhere - make sure to take advantage of this and ask his advice. There is also a card index openly available in the reading room of the case files of rehabilitated persons - you can search through this and order individual case files. You can also request to see the case files of particular people whose names you already know, but in this case you will need to ask the archive in advance by email or by sending a letter so they can make a decision whether to allow you access. This whole place is an anomaly. The feeling when working here is that while the archivist is very welcoming, there's no guarantee you're going to be allowed back in the next day. Remember that it is a privilege to be allowed to work here and be very polite to everyone in the building to ensure a good reputation. Volodymyr Dmytrovych also takes about a month-and-a-half holiday during July and into August, which you won't hear about until the day before he leaves, and which causes the reading room to close. 

A definite up-side is that photography is allowed. You can photograph everything they give you for free. The putevoditel' for this archive is allegedly online, but has disappeared from the website at some point. The pdf of this very broad-brushstroke, undetailed but still important guide is available from editors of this guide. For other citation/ordering help, check out any publications internally by the SBU archive, especially anything by the deputy director, Kokin. Other document publications will have SBU documents that can provide with some important leads. As of 2011, computers are not allowed into the archive, even though photography still seems to be permitted. It may be possible to agree with the archivist to use your computer in the reading room, but you will have to be proactive about arranging this. There is no stolovaia. But the location is pretty central, so you can easily find somewhere to eat, though in immediate proximity only the dubious fare of 'Mister Snack' is available. There is also a small eatery, Bul'ion directly across the street in a basement that has fresh food.

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