Bulgarian philosopher and writer Julia Kristeva, who has lived in France since 1966, collaborated with Bulgaria’s communist-era secret services, a state commission said Friday, a claim she has denied.
A Bulgarian commission on Friday published more than 160 pages of documents containing details about Kristeva’s academic and political activities, but also including some of the information she allegedly provided to agents.
”The commission has original documents and has unanimously voted a resolution classifying the French philosopher of Bulgarian origin among the collaborators of the communist services,” Ekaterina Bontcheva, member of the commission, told AFP earlier on Friday.
“Towards the end of 1970 she began to give information about our nationals abroad, about progressive Arab organisations, especially Palestinian ones, and the activities of Maoist groups,” said an intelligence report dated November 10, 1984.
“The information she provided is not particularly interesting and she lacks discipline: claiming that she was busy, she would forget meetings or fail to attend them,” the report said.
After Kristeva adopted Maoist ideas “she was definitively shut out from the apparatus of collaboration at the beginning of 1973,” the report continued.
The documents on which the commission based its conclusions were published Friday on its website “www.comdos.bg”.
Kristeva, who is the author of more than 30 books and worked alongside other leading French intellectuals such as Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes, said the claim constituted “an attack on my honour and reputation”.
In separate comments to French online weekly L’Obs, Kristeva said: “Someone wants to harm me. We don’t know what is in our files.”
— Julia Kristeva (@JKristeva) March 29, 2018
She told L’Obs that the file came out because she had wanted to work for a Bulgarian newspaper and under some rules of the archives, they must publish information on the background of all journalists.
Code name “Sabina”
The Bulgarian commission which identifies people who worked for the communist-era secret services said Kristeva had worked, under the code name “Sabina”, as a collaborator for the State Security agency, notably, the department in charge of Bulgarian diaspora and Western Europe.
The department oversaw intelligence in the area of the arts and mass media.
It said she began working for the State Security organisation on June 19, 1971. She had moved to Paris in 1966 on a French government scholarship.
The documents did not reveal whether she received any payment.
Allegations that she collaborated with Bulgaria’s intelligence agencies first emerged earlier this week.
“The report that I may have been a member of the Bulgarian secret services under the name of Sabina is not only untrue and grotesque. It damages my honour and reputation and is damaging for my work as well,” the Paris-based Kristeva told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Koprinka Chervenkova, a former anti-communist dissident, defended Kristeva on Friday.
“Mundane interviews with Julia Kristeva are being interpreted as being agent reports. But the documents published reveal her personal strategy was to protect her family (from persecution),” Chervenkova said.
Kristeva, now 76, said she had instructed her lawyer to take action against publications that spread the allegation.
In its heyday Bulgaria’s State Security, working closely with the Soviet KGB, operated a network of some 100,000 agents and informers. It was dissolved in 1989 following the collapse of the communist regime.
The issue of access to, and publication of, its files has continued to elicit powerful emotions in Bulgaria during its difficult transition to democracy.
The law governing this body has been criticised for putting on the same level all the people who had been in touch with the secret services, regardless the circumstances.
The revelation of names is, in principle, without any legal consequences.
Foreign Policy magazine has ranked Kristeva as one of the 100 greatest thinkers of the 20th century. As well as books on psychoanalysis and philosophy, she has written extensively on cultural and feminist issues and is also a novelist.
She is an emeritus professor at the University Paris Diderot and a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York.