Livni pushes Russian gov't to allow olim to keep pensions

Russian-born MK Solodkin to 'Post': This is a major breakthrough.

elderly senior 88.224 (photo credit: )
elderly senior 88.224
(photo credit: )
Among the issues raised by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni when she met Sunday with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, was the economic deprivation facing tens of thousands of Russian immigrants who are forced to forfeit their pensions upon making aliya. The two foreign ministers spent the weekend in Sharm e-Sheikh for the talks of the Middle East Quartet - the US, Russia, EU and the UN - aimed at facilitating peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. While Livni spoke to Lavrov about regional security issues and bilateral relations, she also seized the opportunity to bring up the long-standing issue of pensions for former Russian citizens, about which Russia has consistently refused to reach an agreement with Israel. "In Israel, there are large numbers of Russian immigrants, many of who are forced to endure very difficult economic conditions," Livni told Lavrov. "They are anxiously waiting for us to reach an agreement on this matter." The two agreed to discuss the pension issue further in the near future. "For this issue to be raised at such a high level is a major breakthrough," Russian-born MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) told The Jerusalem Post Monday. "This is not a sudden development," she said. "We [Solodkin and Russian-born MKs Ze'ev Elkin and Michael Nudelman] have been pushing Kadima to make this issue part of the party's agenda for a long time." Solodkin said that she and Elkin had traveled to Russia several times in the past few years to raise the pension issue with government officials there but no resolution was in sight. "This is an issue for either the prime minister or the foreign minister to deal with," stated Solodkin, estimating that at least 36,000 olim from Russia are suffering because the benefits allotted them by Israel's National Insurance Institute (NII) are not enough to live on. She said it also affected thousands of other Russian-speaking immigrants from other states that had once made up the Soviet Union block. "I am very happy that Livni brought up this issue and hope it will yield results," said Solodkin.