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Justice chancellor rejects government's changes to church compensation

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise.
Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise has rejected the government's solution in the matter of compensating the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) and the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAÕK) for damages caused by war and occupation. She is submitting the matter to the Supreme Court.

Madise said that with the solution proposed by the government, the attempt was made to settle the matter before a Supreme Court decision can enter into force.

The Estonian government decided in December last year to support churches in Estonia with non-repayable assistance in the amount of €8.2 million, €6.8 million of which would go to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) and €1.4 million to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAÕK). The money would come out of the state's ownership reform reserve fund, money put aside to satisfy potential claims made in the aftermath of the property reform that followed the end of the Soviet occupation in 1991.

According to the government's orders, the money was to help compensate for damanges caused by the war and the occupation.

Madise objects to the government's course. She sent a letter to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) in February stating that the decision was made without legal grounds, and that the allocation of money to churches from the ownership reform reserve fund was unconstitutional.

In reaction to Madise's objections, the government changed its orders on Thursday this week. Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) said that the government has decided to change the orders so that it would be possible to end disputes. He added that the sums that are to be allocated to the churches remained unchanged.

Madise rejected those changes as well, and announced that she will submit a complaint to the Supreme Court. She asked ministers not to sign any agreements in the meantime.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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