Top Ukrainian Lawmaker Backs Return of Jewish Property, Condemns Anti-Semitism

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said Monday that parliament supports returning property that was seized from Jews by the government during the Soviet era.

Lytvyn is expected to ask President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Kiev officials to find a practical resolution to the issue, his office said. He said the process would involve not only adopting new laws but also strictly enforcing existing laws.

Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn

Lytvyn also will call on parliament to publicly condemn anti-Semitism in Ukraine, his office said. Lytvyn spoke after a meeting with Robert Meth, head of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, who criticized recent anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

"Lytvyn reassured Robert Meth of support from the Ukrainian parliament of the process of returning land to Jewish citizens," Lytvyn's office said. His party controls 26 of the parliament's 450 seats.

Ukraine is home to about 100,000 Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews perished over the centuries in pogroms staged by Ukrainian nationalists, and millions died during the Holocaust. Anti-Semitic feelings still linger, particularly in western Ukraine, where nationalism has the strongest roots.

Many Jews were among the millions of Soviet citizens sent to labor and detention camps under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Source: AP