“Don’t spend a single kopeck on the children of enemies of the people,” How victims of the Gulag are fighting for benefits, reparations and the right to go home

13 January 2021

by Valeriya Ratnikova

Source: Dozhd

More than 100 civil society figures have appealed to the president with a request to provide housing to children of victims of repression. In Russia, 1500 “children of the Gulag” continue to live in the places where they were deported with their families. However, since 1991 they have had the right to receive social housing in the cities where their predecessors lived before their persecution – but this has not yet happened. In 2019, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled to amend the law to provide “children of the Gulag” with housing, but they are still stuck on the waiting list. Valeria Ratnikova’s report explains why this is happening and how the “children of the Gulag” are fighting for the right to return to the homes taken from them by Soviet authorities.

Victims of political repression and their children have had the right to receive compensation from the state, including the right to receive housing in their family’s place of origin, since 1991, but the law is not being enforced. According to the law, benefits should be funded regionally, and this is not monitored by the federal authorities. These are the problems faced by hundreds of “children of the Gulag”.

In 2019, the Constitutional Court made a landmark ruling in the case of victims of repression, prior to which “children of the Gulag” living in Moscow, for example, had to have lived in the city for 10 years before being added to the waiting list for social housing. The Court ruled to change the law to give victims the right to join the queue without meeting additional conditions and to provide funding to individuals from the federal budget, however the Court’s ruling has not yet been acted upon.

The government has actually refused to comply with the Court’s ruling, but has launched a draft bill in the State Duma which does almost nothing to correct the situation. Deputies from A Just Russia introduced an alternative bill, which proposed to award financial compensation to victims of repression from the federal budget and no later than within a year of a claim being submitted. Despite criticism from experts, the government’s bill passed its first reading.

The Institute of Law and Public Policy is now running a joint campaign together with Memorial to ensure that necessary amendments are made to the government bill. 

The international historical, educational, charitable and human rights society “Memorial” is registered as a “foreign agent”.

Translated by Elizabeth Rushton

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