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Justice for the victims of Soviet oppression

Klaus and Yuri Kiladze v. Georgia  | 2010

Justice for the victims of Soviet oppression

My dad was executed in 1937 – I believe he was executed first and convicted afterwards. … My mum was then detained as a member of a traitor’s family and sentenced to 8 years. My brother and I were 9 and 11 years old at the time.

Klaus Kiladze, as reported in Radio Free Liberty - © Photo Radio tavisupleba

Background

In 1937 Klaus and Yuri Kiladze were aged eleven and nine. That year their father was shot dead by the Soviet authorities. The following year, their mother was deported to a gulag for eight years for campaigning against the Soviet regime. 

Klaus and Yuri lived alone in Tbilisi in fear of arrest. The authorities then detained them and seized the family apartment, as well as all of their possessions. Klaus and Yuri were beaten and humiliated because they were “the children of traitors” and they were kept in terrible conditions. During these experiences they suffered from malnourishment, typhoid and scabies.

In 1997 a law was passed in Georgia referring to a right to compensation for the victims of Soviet oppression. Klaus and Yuri applied for the compensation in 2005. However, the courts said that the brothers would have to wait because the relevant laws were still incomplete. They were still refused compensation.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court held that, after establishing a law with a right to compensation, it was unreasonable for the Georgian authorities to reject Klaus and Yuri’s claim to it. It was the fault of the authorities, not Klaus and Yuri, that the legal arrangements for providing the compensation were still incomplete a decade after the right had first been established.

The authorities had violated the Klaus and Yuri’s right to property by rejecting their claim in these circumstances. 

It's a very, very important decision because the court explicitly says that the Georgian government must implement its compensation laws and plan its budget so that it can pay for the victims of the repression.

Philip Leach, one of the lawyers of the Kiladze brothers, as reported in Radio Free Liberty

Follow-up

Klaus and Yuri Kiladze were awarded compensation.

In 2011 the law was changed to give effective access to compensation for all victims of Soviet political repression and their first-generation heirs. This allowed thousands of other victims to obtain compensation.


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