Will the Presidential Council Discuss the Issues of De-Stalinisation and Compensation for Victims of Soviet Political Repression?

It is planned to put the issues of de-Stalinisation and of compensation for the victims of Soviet political repression on the agenda of the meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev with the members of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights.

At January’s meeting with President Medvedev, the Presidential Council on Human Rights will propose that the level of compensation for victims of political repression should be significantly increased, head of the Council Mikhail Fedotov told Interfax.

He said that this proposal is part of a proposed programme for “National Reconciliation and Commemoration of the victims of the Totalitarian Regime” which the Council is developing.

“In the framework of this project we propose to increase significantly the level of compensation for victims of political repression. We have a federal law on rehabilitation of victims of political repression, and this lays down the need for compensation. But we are saying that the time has come to return to a discussion of the level of this compensation. It must not be only symbolic, it must also be materially significant, to a certain degree, Mikhail Fedotov said.

He said that it is too early to talk about the amount by which compensation might be raised.

“In order to start the whole programme, it is necessary first of all to get the approval of the President. He is not ready yet. We propose to present the programme to the President in January,” said Mikhail Fedotov.

Earlier he had told Interfax that the programme for “National Reconciliation and Commemoration of the Victims of the Totalitarian Regime” being developed by the Council would involve work to commemorate the victims: establishing monuments, organizing museums and memorial centres, the opening and studying of archives, and also social support for the victims of the totalitarian regime.

“Will specific organizations be given an evaluation in the course of the programme? I think that this will happen,” Mikhail Fedotov said, in answer to a question as to whether the role of the NKVD in Stalinist repressions would be condemned in Russia.

“But the instruments of the regime were not only the security services, but even organizations such as the unions for artists that would seem to be distant from the security services. Let’s remember how Boris Pasternak was excluded from the Union of Writers,” said Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Council on Human Rights. “This will be an evaluation of the regime. The fact that the whole nation were victims of the regime is for me personally self-evident,” said Mikhail Fedotov.

“It is necessary to evaluate the whole regime. This is important to overcome what remains of it. We need to come to terms with our past, just as the

Germans, the Spanish, the Portuguese and others have come to terms with their past,” said Mikhail Fedotov.

Yan Rachinsky, a member of the board of the Russian Memorial Society for Human Rights and Historical Education, told Interfax that at present the amount of compensation given to the victims of political repression is extremely small.

“It is an insult and not compensation,” he said.

As an example, Yan Rachinsky cited the level of the one-payment compensation to prisoners of camps, prisons and special psychiatric prisons which stands at 75 roubles for each month of imprisonment.

The Memorial representative said that, under the law on the rehabilitation of victims of political repression, an individual can receive a one-time payment of up to 10,000 roubles for property they lost. “For this money you won’t buy a single square metre of living space in a village,” the human rights defender said.

Yan Rachinsky pointed out that under the legislation on the monetization of benefits the responsibility for making regular payments of compensation to the victims of repression was allocated to the competence of regional governments. “But in the regions budgetary funds available vary considerably. There are regions where payments are reduced to as little as 200 - 300 roubles a month,” he said.

According to Yan Rachinsky, the situation concerning regular payments of compensation to victims of repression is best in St. Petersburg. “There is a special law in St. Petersburg that sets the monthly top-up for pensions of former camp prisoners at 2400 roubles, and 1200 roubles for those who lost their parents while still minors," said Yan Rachinsky.

“In Moscow the situation is worse than in St. Petersburg. In other regions it is worse still,” said the Memorial representative.

According to Yan Rachinsky, on two occasions the Constitutional Court has directed the attention of the government to the fact that the levels of compensation for victims of repression were “inadequatein contemporary conditions.” “But until today there have been no changes,” he said.

Memorial is the leading non-governmental organization on Stalinist repression in the countries of the former Soviet Union, dealing with questions of rehabilitation of the victims of repression.
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Rights in Russia,
28 Dec 2010, 11:43
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