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Moscow Moves to Reclaim Overseas Trove : Russia: It’s seeking $9 billion in former Soviet stock and land holdings around the world.

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From Reuters

Russia wants to reclaim $9 billion worth of real estate and stocks in 106 countries around the world, but proving ownership will be difficult, a State Property Committee (GKI) official said on Monday.

“The problem is to prove that the lands, buildings and shares in firms are ours, belong to Russia,” Valery Fateyev, deputy head of the committee, told a news conference.

Fateyev said Russia lays claim to the property of the last czar’s family and that of Russian nobles, as well as property that used to belong to the former Soviet Union.

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Russia inherited all former Soviet foreign property after it signed a treaty with its fellow republics following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Under the treaty, the other 14 Soviet republics agreed to forsake their share in the property in exchange for Russia assuming their share of former Soviet debts.

“But we must first prove Russia’s rights to all of these properties abroad, except our embassies. So we keep trying. Why not try to claim our rights?” Fateyev said.

Russia is claiming at least $3.3 billion worth of real estate, comprising a total of about 1,900 plots of land and buildings, and $5.9 worth of capital in 500 companies.

“GKI’s foreign property department has just started analyzing all this vast field. In Germany alone, 65,000 files have to be studied scrupulously in archives before we move to proving something,” Fateyev said.

Russia is claiming ownership of about $3 billion worth of stock in British companies, the largest amount in a single country, while Iran accounts for the most land at about $1 billion.

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“Another example is Palestine. It used to be a matter of pride for nobles to have land there. Since then, land registered to one of the grand princes (of the Russian imperial court) has become land of a new state, Israel.”

Fateyev said the problem with companies, where the Soviet Union held shares of capital, is that many of them have become joint stock companies since the breakup of the Communist state, and little is known about the new owners.

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