Source Pravda.Ru

No Home, No Protection

Property restitution to pre-war owners and their heirs in Latvia gives rise to lots of problems
Property restitution to pre-war owners and their heirs in Latvia gave rise to lots of problems, the same way it was in the former Soviet republic of Estonia. The way the problem is being settled in Latvia is similar to that of Estonia. However, Latvians also suggest some new ideas.

Chairman of the Latvia Duma committee for social problems Leonid Kurdyumov says: “The process you call restitution, we call denationalization. The situation has become more strained especially within the past three to four years, as the very process started in Latvia later than in Estonia. Tens of thousands of people turned out uninvited guests in the apartments, which they believed to be their own apartments fmany years. This especially concerned the Latvian capital, Riga: all buildings in the Old Town went to their pre-war owners, only with the exception of 10-15% of the public buildings.”

After the unbelievably scandalous eviction of the Shirshins, a family from Riga, many people understood that restitution was a rather cruel process, especially concerning the accommodation problem. However, the local authorities are resolute, and they are going to proceed with the restitution. The eviction of the Riga family and their children from the apartment where the people had been living for more than 50 years caused a wide response among the population.

The people are upset with this illegal disorder, to which the parliament closes its eyes. However, the authorities are inclined to say that the incident was a political action made on demand from Moscow. Latvian human rights activist Vladimir Bogdanov, the organizer of a protest action against the eviction of people from denationalized houses, is currently in jail. The man is charged with organization of unauthorized street protest actions for the protection of people who were evicted from apartments in accordance with the law on restitution (for protection of the Shirshins, particularly). Vladimir Bogdanov was detained for 15 days for the unauthorized actions.

Today, a demonstration will be organized near the Latvia Supreme Court building in Riga; it is to be a protest against the persecution of Vladimir Bogdanov. The demonstration is organized by the Russian Society in Latvia. The society circulated a statement saying: “Arrest of the human rights activity is a political order of those who make their fortunes with frauds connected with apartments; it’s an attempt to scare the protesters of the illegal evictions.”

The Latvian law on denationalization in force, providing for property restitution to the pre-war owners, was adopted by the Seym of the previous convocation. One-third of the Seym made up owners of Latvian property themselves. As a result, thousands of people became hostages of a situation when they cannot be sure of their rights for accommodation. As for the Shirshins, their lawsuit lasted for over two years and resulted in defeat. However, as the family saw the results of similar lawsuits, they appealed to the European Human Rights Court.

Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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