Ukrainian religious land-use law praised


KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Ukrainian Jewish leaders praised President Viktor Yushchenko for signing into law a measure providing permanent land use for religious organizations.

Some, however, say it only goes halfway toward restoring Jewish community property.

Yushchenko signed a law permitting officially registered religious organizations to permanently use land under state and municipal ownership for building and maintaining churches and other buildings needed to support their activities, the presidential press service reported Jan 31.

“We appreciate the law but consider it a half measure," Josef Zissels, a longtime leader of the Va’ad in Ukraine, told JTA. "It is necessary [for the government] to transfer all plots which were in Jewish possession, property before the Soviet expropriation and nationalization. For example, we have such a cadastre for Western Ukraine.”

“We need a restitution of those plots which were landed property of religious Jewish communities,” Zissels said.

The law on amending Ukrainian legislation regarding religious organizations’ right to free and permanent use of state land plots was adopted by the parliament on Jan. 15.

Apart from that, the law provides that upon the termination of a religious organization’s activities, the right to use such land also ends.

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