- March 13, 2012
Governmental Optimistic Propaganda of Land Reimbursement
Reimbursement of lands from Vilnius region, which were nationalized by the USSR, was finished at 87 per cent. This year’s pace in proprietorship reimbursement assumes that at the end of the year the process of property restitution will be finished at 99% in Vilnius region.
These optimistic news were announced at the Monday session of the government to representatives of authorities from Šalčininkai and Vilnius regions.
The session was chaired by Deividas Matulionis, government’s chancellor, who is the head of working group appointed by the Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius in 2010. The group was supposed to work out a mechanism which would speed up land reimbursement in Vilnius region, the one in which the process was definitely dragging out in comparison to other regions, where the denationalization of land was finished long time ago.
Gintautas Vasiliauskas, a deputy director of the National Land Service, presented the data concerning land reimbursement in the Vilnius region. They show that the Service decided to prove the proprietorship of nationalized land as many as 1,808 times in 2011. In the whole country, such decisions were made 9,600 times.
So most of the decisions concerned the Vilnius region, informed Gintautas Vasiliauskas. He announced that the department of Vilnius region is working on the plan of two towns – in Pagiriai and Buivydžiai.
After approving these plans, which should happen within few next weeks, the Vilnius department will be able to issue 5,192 new decisions about proprietorship reimbursement. This way, the property restitution will be finished in 99 per cent, said the director of NLS. His optimism surprised even the chancellor Matulionis, who joked replying that “it’s a pity that not in 99,9 per cent”.
However, the representatives of the Vilnius region do not laugh. They explained that the presented data, even if correct, do not illustrate the reality of the process of land reimbursement. Renata Cytacka, a secretary of the Council from the Vilnius region, the numbers illustrate the overall situation, but the one concerning the local population is much worse.
The numbers include all the claimants, also those who has moved their lands to the Vilnius district. While our findings suggest that 40-50 per cent of the local population did not recover their patrimony, Renata Cytacka informed.
Czesław Olszewski, a deputy mayor of the region, drew attention to the arrogance of the workers of the NLS in the Vilnius region. They often send the locals away empty-handed because, allegedly, they do not speak Lithuanian.
This information dismayed the government. The chancellor Matulionis noticed that the majority of people employed by the NLS do know not only the official language, but also Polish and Russian. Thus, in his opinion, it is unacceptable to send the applicants back just because they may not know Lithuanian.
Unfortunately, the problem does exist and it concerns mainly the older people, who turn for help to the local government, Cytacka said.
Imagine what problems have these people in fixing different cases, when they are treated in this way, said Olszewski. He also stressed that the officials often similarly treat the local authorities.
I personally send many letters and inquiries to the NLS, some of them even three times, but the officials from the local department simply ignore these letters and leave them without answers for years, said the deputy mayor. He added that this causes serious problems for the local government which, when it is impossible to fix the local government’s ownership, cannot freely decide about its possessions. The situation concerns about 200 buildings in the Vilnius region.
We are often accused because the region does not develop economically and it cannot attract the investors, but it is impossible to recruit investors, when we cannot regulate the ownership of the local authorities in the NLS, the deputy mayor was outraged.
The chancellor Matulionis asked the representatives of the NLS and Edvardas Raugalas, the deputy minister of agriculture which controls the NLS, to pay attention to the presented problems.
Gintautas Vasiliauskas assured the representatives of the Vilnius region that this year the department in the Vilnius region will be reinforced by some additional workers, whereas the government will give more money to finish off the process of reprivatization in the Vilnius region.
As far as the Vilnius region, the process of land reimbursement will be finished there, apart from some contentious issues which are not under the influence of the NLS. Also, the process of land reimbursement in the Vilnius region will be speeded up, so that it was finished, as the government have suggested, by the end of this year, said the deputy director of NLS.
The chancellor Deividas Matulionis in turn finished by drawing attention of the audience that it is the current government which has promised that it will finish off the process of property restitution in the Vilnius region and that effectively fulfils it.
Please, do remember about it, said the chancellor at the end of the meeting. Although, he should have started the meeting with this point because, as some participants of the meeting noticed, it was organized mainly for propaganda – to present the public opinion the achievements of currently ruling government.
Tłumaczenie Sylwia Janus w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Sylwia Janus within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.