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Latvia to shut commission on Soviet 'occupation' to save money


RIGA, June 12 (RIA Novosti) - Latvia has decided for financial reasons to suspend the work of its commission to calculate the damage from the Soviet "occupation," a government spokesman said on Friday.

The decision was taken at an extraordinary government session on Thursday evening, with the country saving several hundred thousand U.S. dollars by suspending the work of the commission from August 1.

Latvia has been one of the hardest hit of all EU states by the global financial crisis. The former Soviet republic's government resigned in February after a wave of street protests against a planned increase in VAT and other unpopular measures to help the budget meet EU commitments.

The commission issued a report in April putting the total damage from its Soviet past at $200 billion. Experts used economic performance indicators in Finland, Denmark and the United States from 1950-1990 to assist in calculating the country's potential GDP growth if it had never been part of the Soviet Union.

Although it is hard to accurately assess the economic growth Latvia would have enjoyed if it had not been part of the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991, the authors of the report claimed the Soviet "occupation" had demographic, social, economic and moral consequences.

Andrei Klementyev, a member of the Latvian parliament's presidium, had pushed for the commission to be shut down for both economic and diplomatic reasons, pointing out that it received around $400,000 a year in government funding and harmed relations with Russia.

"At a time when relations between Latvia and Russia are beginning to improve these radical statements emerge. And they of course have a negative impact on our relations," he said.

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