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Lithuania: Return of Jewish Property Confiscated by the Soviets

(July 8, 2009) On June 25, 2009, the Government of Lithuania submitted to the Parliament its draft Law on Compensation to the Jewish Community for Non-Return of Property Confiscated During the Soviet Period. The Law provides for the allocation of an amount equal to US$50 million for this purpose. The bill does not address the restitution of property that belonged to private individuals.

The payment of compensation would start in 2012 and continue for the next ten years. March 1 of each year is defined as the payment date, but the amount paid each year will depend on the national economic situation and the ability of the state to pay, according to the Law. Compensation will be made in monetary form and by the return of specific properties. Current real estate value will be counted toward the allocated compensation amount. Money received as compensation can be used for religious, educational, scholarly, and charitable purposes of the Jewish community and to support individuals who suffered from the Soviet occupation.

The bill has been strongly criticized by the Jewish community because of what it deems to be the inadequate amount of money provided for compensation (only about one third of the seized property would be returned) and because of the delayed payment plan. Lithuania is among the last countries in Eastern Europe to provide restitution for Jewish property confiscated by former governments. (Lithuania Will Compensate Jews for Lost Property but After the [Economic] Crisis [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM, June 26, 2009, available at