LATVIAN COMMISSION DEMANDS REPARATIONS FOR SOVIET OCCUPATION

For DAILYBABEL

Neither the effects of the global economic crisis, nor the 64th anniversary celebrations of Soviet Latvia’s victory over the Nazis managed to reverse the Latvian State Commission’s decision to determine reparations for the Soviet occupation which lasted 40 years (1950-1990).

The Commission was established in 2005 after the Latvian Parliament adopted a law on “compensation for Soviet occupation,” and it will end its activity in 2010.

The preliminary estimates presented by the Commission include economic, ecological, demographic, social, and moral costs incurred by the Soviet occupation, and, so far, reach a total of 200 billion dollars. According to the Commission’s extensive inquiries, Latvia lost its economic potential and saw its GDP halved by the occupation’s after-effects. The Latvian State Commission maintains that this has caused Latvia’s development to lag behind in comparison to its regional counterparts.

Despite the extent of the Commission’s work, Russia has already announced it will not honor any demands for reparations. “All such demands, including financial ones, linked to the so-called Soviet occupation, ignore political, historical, and legal realities, and are considered unfounded accordingly,” underlined the representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Nesterenko.
Another high-ranking Russian official pointed out that the chapter of Soviet occupation in Latvia is now closed and attempts to revive it could damage bilateral relations between Russia and Latvia.
Latvia has been reluctant in celebrating the anniversary of the Soviet victory over the Nazis by ethnic Russians in Latvia. The new EU and NATO member has struggled to accept its Soviet past and its request for reparations could transpose into another case of Estonia’s Bronze Soldier.  Latvian authorities have decided to combine the anniversary of May 9th by pro-Russian organizations with the informational campaign on Soviet crimes organized by Latvian Nationalists. 

Russia is becoming worried that it might not any have strong and effective tools to influence the rebellious behavior of former Soviet republics. Moscow’s frustrations are steadily growing as Latvia’s stance on reparations could serve as a precedent for other former Soviet nations such as Ukraine, which has recently become vocal about the USSR’s role in the 1932-1933 famine known as the Holodomor. 

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