A Soviet-era sign in Russian shows the way to a bomb shelter at the former KGB secret police premises in Riga on March 2, 2008.

Vilnius -

A Lithuanian website exposing the activities of the Soviet KGB secret police crashed on Thursday soon after it put lists of personnel online as crowds of visitors logged on.

The Baltic state's top research centre late on Wednesday announced it had uploaded 628 documents reflecting the activities of the KGB divisions in cities and districts when Lithuania was under Soviet rule, including names of around 1 500 officers.

“These persons lived close to all of us. People from all over Lithuania tried to enter the website to check the lists,” director-general Terese Birute Burauskaite told AFP on Thursday.

“We want people to better understand the KGB's activities, its persecution. The documents will help those interested to judge it themselves,” she added.

The state-funded website www.kgbveikla.lt, which went online in May last year, was impossible to load from early on Thursday, but Burauskaite expected it would start functioning by the end of the day.

The lists from around the country include KGB cadres who worked in Lithuania from 1960-1991, usually undercover. The documents revealed the biggest KGB section was in the city of Kaunas, central Lithuania, the flashpoint of anti-Soviet sentiments for decades.

“These people in the lists usually did not expose themselves, worked undercover, and presented themselves as officials from ministries or organisations”, said Kristina Bucinskaite, a historian at the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre.

The Vilnius-based centre had earlier published documents from KGB central authorities, and intends to release a separate list of more than 1 000 KGB agents - conscripted secret collaborators - who failed to confess after Lithuania achieved independence.

The Soviets occupied Lithuania during and after World War II, and by 1952 Soviet dictator Stalin had deported more than 275,000

Lithuanians, mostly to Siberia. Another 21 000 died in an anti-Soviet insurgency.

The Baltic state of three million broke from the Soviet Union in 1990 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004. - Sapa-AFP