‘Children of the Gulag’ file class-action lawsuit against Russia’s State Duma
A group of more than 20 children of victims of Soviet-era political repressions have filed a class-action lawsuit against the State Duma with the Russian Supreme Court.
The claim was filed over the parliament’s alleged failure to fulfil a 2019 Constitutional Court ruling, according to which 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 they were persecuted.
The Memorial Human Rights Center told Meduza that 23 plaintiffs joined the lawsuit, who are between 64 and 89 years of age; another 74-year-old plaintiff died shortly before the claim was filed.
The class-action suit demands that the Russian State Duma’s inaction regarding the implementation of the 2019 Constitutional Court ruling be deemed illegal, as it is preventing the plaintiffs from returning to their original place of residence and receiving housing there.
The claim involves plaintiffs seeking to return not only to Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also the Oryol and Rostov regions, the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories, and the Crimean peninsula.
Memorial also noted that since the class-action suit involves more than 20 plaintiffs, they can act on behalf of everyone who has faced a similar problem.
Russia adopted a Federal Law “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repressions” in 1991, securing the right to housing for rehabilitated victims, as well as any children born in the Gulag system or in exile, in the cities where they or their families used to live. However, in 2004, Russia’s regions were granted the right to establish additional restrictions on the provision of housing for these victims. As a result, so-called “children of the Gulag” seeking housing in Moscow were placed in the general queue for social housing, leaving them to wait as long as 25 years.
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. In its ruling, the court ordered lawmakers to make the necessary changes to the corresponding legislation.
In the summer of 2020, the Russian government submitted a draft law to the State Duma on preserving the powers of the regional authorities on the issue of housing allocation. In practice, this meant that the children of victims of repression would still end up on the general waitlist for social housing. The bill passed in the first reading, but wasn’t adopted in the end.
Lawmakers from A Just Russia also put forward an alternative bill, proposing that the children of repression victims be allocated housing at the expense of the federal government within a one-year period. The State Duma rejected this bill, as well.