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Soviets Plan to Sue in Israel over Back Payment of Rent

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The Soviet consular mission plans to sue in Israeli courts for back rent on certain Soviet-owned properties in downtown Jerusalem.

Mayor Teddy Kollek said that the Russians have a good case, and the municipality would pay what is legally owed.

Nimrod Novik, a senior aide to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, said he thought the Soviets were more interested in having their right to the property sites formally recognized than in the rent claims against the various public and private tenants.

“We all knew they had various properties which, in the absence of diplomatic ties, were being put to various uses by various tenants,” Novik said.

Kollek said jovially that he was pleased the Russians are looking after their land, and hoped it was with a view to building their embassy on it in the future.

He said the claims in the name of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is a major landholder in Jerusalem, were not unexpected or unfamiliar to him.

The sites in question include a car park on King George Street, and at least part of the land on which the Tirat Bat-Sheva Hotel stands on King George Street.

The Soviet officials reportedly concluded they deserve back rent and have hired local attorneys to file suits.

The Soviet mission arrived in Israel in June 1987 to look after Soviet property, mainly held in the name of the Russian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, and also the interests of Soviet nationals, mostly church personnel.

The mission established an office in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, the first Soviet diplomatic presence in Israel since Moscow broke relations after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that it has extended the visas of the members of the Soviet mission. This followed the announcement last Thursday, that an Israeli consular mission will soon be allowed to proceed to Moscow.

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