Russian lawmakers propose changes to bill on housing for children of Soviet repression victims
A group of lawmakers from Russia’s State Duma have put forward changes to the existing bill on amending the law “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression,” Vedomosti reported on Thursday, December 17.
The changes were proposed by Galina Khovanskaya from the party A Just Russia, Sergey Shargunov from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), and Nikolai Gonchar from United Russia.
The State Duma approved the bill in question in its first reading back in November. In its current form, the draft law allows the regional authorities to retain power over housing compensation for victims of Soviet-era political repressions, effectively meaning that the “children of the Gulag” will continue to be placed on general waiting lists for social housing — a process that can take decades.
The lawmakers have proposed amending the bill so that victims of repressions receive payments for housing from the federal authorities within a one-year period, lawyer Grigory Vaypan explained to Vedomosti.
According to lawmaker Galina Khovanskaya’s estimates, the number of victims of political repression in need of housing is no more than 500 families. These are mainly former residents of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Krasnodar, in addition to 51 families from Sevastopol. Solving the problem will require 2.5 billion rubles (approximately $34.3 million), Khovanskaya told Vedomosti.
The government left this question to the mercy of the regional authorities. As a result, the regional authorities gained the right to put victims of repression in the line for receiving housing in accordance with the usual procedure. Thus, repressed people — mostly elderly people over the age of 70 — have to wait 25–30 years to receive housing from the state.
In December 2019, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of three daughters of repressed Moscow residents who were requesting compensation for housing lost when their families were deported from the Russian capital. The Russian high court demanded changes to the legislation, affirming that rehabilitated victims of political repressions, as well as any children born in the Gulag system or in exile, have the right to receive housing in the cities where their families lived at the time of the repression.
In the summer of 2020, the government submitted a draft law to the State Duma on preserving the powers of the regional authorities on the issue of housing allocation. A Just Russia party leader Sergey Mironov and lawmaker Galina Kovanskaya put forward an alternative bill, proposing that the children of repression victims be allocated housing at the expense of the federal government within a clearly specified one-year period. The State Duma rejected this bill.
In September 2020, two UN special rapporteurs appealed to the Russian authorities to provide housing compensation to the children of victims of Soviet era political repressions within two years.