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At an international conference in Riga, the President of the Constitutional Court is speaking on the issue of the legal grounds for the responsibility of Russia for the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States

22-03-2019

At the invitation of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Latvia, on 22 March, the President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, is participating in an international conference held in Riga to discuss the topic of the losses inflicted by the Soviet occupation to the Baltic States.

The conference is attended by the Ministers of Justice of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, Members of the European Parliament, the Presidents of the Constitutional Courts of Lithuania and Latvia, lawyers and historians, investigators of the crimes of the Soviet occupation, and experts on the calculation of the inflicted losses. In their reports, the participants of the conference examine questions related to compensation for losses caused by international crimes, the calculation of the losses caused to the Baltic States by the Soviet occupation, and the international condemnation of the occupation and crimes by the Soviet Union in the Baltic States.

The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, has stressed on more than one occasion that, in accordance with the universally recognised international legal norms, the Russian Federation is responsible for the aggression of the USSR against the Baltic States and all its consequences, also that the crimes of the Soviet Union in the Baltic States deserve a similar assessment as the crimes committed by the Nazi occupation regime, i.e. taking into account the specific circumstances, according to international legal norms, they must be regarded as crimes against humanity, war crimes, or even genocide with no limitation periods. This position is also reflected in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania. According to Dainius Žalimas, compensation for the losses caused by the Soviet occupation is essential for securing the primacy of international law and its effectiveness. It can take a long time to solve this issue, yet it is not meaningless, particularly in view of the fact that Germany after a considerable length of time nevertheless paid compensation to the victims of the Nazi regime in central and eastern Europe.

“The calculation of damages can be seen as a step towards the implementation of the principle of full reparation and it shows that the claim for compensation remains among the pending issues in relations with Russia. The solidarity and coordinated action of the Baltic States in calculating the damages and maintaining this claim constitute one of the preconditions in seeking that the Russian Federation, as the state successor to the rights of the USSR, be responsible for the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States”, said Dainius Žalimas.

The report under the title “Legal Grounds for Demanding Compensation for the Damages of the Soviet Occupation” delivered at the conference by the President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, covers three main issues related to compensation for the losses caused by the Soviet occupation: the legal ground for the responsibility of Russia for the Soviet occupation, the scope and form of reparation, and the admissibility of the claim for compensation.

In November 2015, the Ministers of Justice of the Baltic States signed the declaration stating the aim to calculate the losses inflicted by the Soviet occupation, to demand that these losses be compensated, and to ensure that the crimes committed by the Soviet Union receive evaluation at the international level. The declaration states that the time has come to arrange the relationship with the past and to assess, in a scientifically justified manner, the losses suffered as a result of the totalitarian communist regime of the Soviet Union. The declaration expressed the need to highlight the fact of the occupation in relations with Russia and to ensure that the Russian Federation, as the successor to the rights of the Soviet Union, acknowledges this occupation, takes responsibility for it, and compensates for all related losses. Since the signing of this declaration, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have made significant progress in coordinating the methodology for calculating the losses caused by the Soviet occupation. The conference taking place in Riga is the second one held to continue cooperation with a view to implementing the objectives identified by the said declaration. At the first conference, held in 2015, the President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, spoke concerning the Lithuanian legal regulation governing the claim for compensation for the losses inflicted by the Soviet occupation regime.