Saeima approves takeover of 'Moscow House' in Rīga

The Latvian state will take over the building of the so-called Moscow House in Rīga, Marijas Street 7, as stipulated by the relevant law adopted in the parliament's final reading on January 11. The future of the building could become clearer in a couple of months.

The former “Railway Culture House” in Rīga, Marijas Street 7, has been dubbed the “Moscow House” since 2004. The establishment and maintenance of the institution were financed by Moscow's Mayor, and in 2001 the project was initiated by then-Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and then-Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Udaltsov.

Information provided by the State Security Service shows that the so-called Moscow House has been used as a support point for various Russian-implemented anti-Latvian measures.

At a meeting shortly before Christmas, the Saeima backed the urgency of a bill to take the Moscow House into the ownership of the country. The National Security Committee of the Saeima has indicated that after February 24, 2022, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, activities have taken place at the premises indicating support for Russia's aggressive policy. Therefore, Latvia must take action against the existence of a support location for such activities in the center of the capital city.

"It [the house] is a foreign policy instrument of the Russian Federation through which it deliberately spreads its aggressive actions, exculpatory propaganda and pro-Kremlin interpretations of history. No one should take action against a democratic legal state and deny its existence," the Saeima statement said.

The Saeima approved this draft law at the first reading at the end of 2023 and now has adopted it in the final reading. 

The law stipulates that real estate in Rīga, Marijas Street 7 is the property of the Latvian state.

After the coming into force of the Law – the day after its announcement – the Ministry of Transport (SM) shall immediately enter the Moscow House in the Land Register in the name of the State in the person of the Ministry, the Law prescribes. The State Police will have to ensure its security and order in the adjacent territory. It should be noted that the Moscow House is already on land belonging to the Ministry of Transport.

The Law also stipulates that the Moscow House shall transfer to the State ownership free of all encumbrances and burdens.

Persons whose movable property is located in the Moscow House must free the premises from the property within seven days after the day of coming into force of the Law. Persons who have declared business at the address must reregister their enterprise elsewhere within 3 working days after the day of coming into force of the Law.

The law orders the government to submit a report to the Saeima by March 31 on the planned future action with the Moscow House. There have been various options on what the future fate of the building might be.

Moscow House is likely to be auctioned off. It is especially stressed that Latvia has no intention of obtaining any material benefit from this real estate.

The Ministry of Culture encouraged the Moscow House building to be devoted to the development of cultural and artistic creativity in the future, however, the Minister of Culture Agnese Logina (Progressives) withdrew the proposal before the final reading.

It has also been said that the building could be used to assist Ukraine or Ukrainians.

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