Russia - pay up

  • 2004-10-20
One has to be particularly pleased that Presi-dent Vaira Vike-Freiberga has so succinctly expres-sed her view that Russia should be required to pay for damage to property (particularly Latvia's once beautiful churches that are slowly but with difficulty being restored) environment industry, health care etc.

But more importantly, compensation should be directed to those who suffered, or whose families suffered deprivation, murder, exile to Siberian slave-labor camps or other methods of torture.

The human rights issues that are significantly a large part of the reparations request should indeed be detailed and documented for the entire period during which Soviets illegally occupied Latvia. The United Nations Charter should specifically be held up as a document in order to inform, cajole and demand that the world take notice of its tenets and take steps for Latvia to gain its proper monetary compensation from Russia.

It is laughable that the Russians are requesting 3 billion from Latvia for military expenses. Russia has over time been the greatest power in the world - murdering millions of people, enslaving them for years if not centuries - and yet has never been brought to account in any international forum or judicial court.

Germany's crimes were horrific, but at least the Germans acknowledged their misdeeds and were required to pay reparations. Over the last 60 years, individuals have continued to receive monetary compensation up to the present day. Now, the time has finally come for Russia to stand up once and for all and admit to the reprehensible and inhumane crimes of humanity against the Latvian people at home and abroad. One has to include persons abroad who also suffered, having had to flee their homeland in order to escape communist subjugation and terror and thereby were denied the company and love of family and the enjoyment that would have been provided by an extended circle of relatives. They were also denied the ability to grow up in their parents' homes and denied access to family history in cities. towns and villages. Homesteads were seized, occupants killed or denied access to their homes and then these very homes were subdivided into crawlspaces to house Russians.

Russia has to accept responsibility for the catastrophic events that were caused to occur in Latvia and elsewhere. Unless and until Russians come to terms with what their governments have done, they will continue to be accomplices in their complicity and in their quiet acceptance of the status quo. Russians - stand up, be counted and ask your government to pay for their crimes committed in your name.

Edite Lynch

Canada

 

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