MOSCOW, Aug. 2 (JTA) — Some 200 Holocaust victims have received their first payment from a Swiss fund created in 1997 to help needy survivors. At a ceremony in the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue inside Moscow’s World War II Memorial Park, the survivors received vouchers that will allow them to receive $400 from the $180 million Holocaust Memorial Fund. A second payment of $600 is scheduled to be made in October. Fund officials hope to reach a total of some 2,500 Jewish and non-Jewish survivors in Russia. This is the first money most Russian survivors have received for their World War II-era suffering. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, some survivors — many of whom kept their wartime stories secret for decades — received a small bonus to their pensions that amounted to less than $4. Some survivors and Jewish officials said the compensation was inadequate, but Russia’s chief rabbi, Adolph Shayevich, said the payments “will allow people who have endured so much to survive the current difficult times in Russia.” Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states have already been compensated from the fund. Russia had originally sought to tax the payments, but former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov dropped that idea in May.
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