Ukraine President to Discuss Restitution During U.S. Visit

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is expected to discuss restitution issues with Jewish leaders during his visit this week to the United States.

Accompanying Kuchma is the president of the newly formed Ukrainian Jewish Congress, Vadim Rabinovich.

The congress, created about three weeks ago in Kiev, is an umbrella organization for dozens of Ukrainian Jewish organizations. It plans to unite the disparate Jewish groups, counter anti-Semitism and seek restitution for Jewish property in this former Soviet republic.

Jewish communal leaders in Ukraine have said that they are seeking the return of more than 700 pieces of property.

During his visit, Kuchma is slated to meet with the World Jewish Restitution Organization to discuss the property claims.

Iosif Zissels, chairman of the Ukrainian Va’ad, the country’s oldest Jewish organization, said that Kuchma’s U.S. visit could be the beginning of a dialogue between Ukrainian authorities and the Jewish community that would lead to a full-fledged process of restitution.

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