Jewish Telegraph Agency
January 16, 2006

A proposed law in Latvia would return around 200 Jewish properties back to the country’s Jewish community.

The Latvian government currently has possession of the properties. Arkady Suharenko, of the Council of Latvian Jewish Communities, told JTA the law is in the final stages of being drafted. It will then have to be approved by the cabinet and passed by the Saeima, the Latvian Parliament.

According to Suharenko, a 1992 law allowed for the restitution of religious property to Jewish communities, but Jewish communities around Latvia were poorly organized and many exceeded the 1996 deadline to make their claims.

As a result, only a handful of properties were returned. To minimize anti-Semitic sentiment, the bill will not make claims on Jewish property in private hands, JTA has learned. Similar comprehensive restitution laws to benefit the Jewish community have not been adopted yet in any of the former Soviet republics.