Russia-Israel treaty will entitle olim to pension funds

by Tamara Zieve

The treaty applies to every immigrant who worked for at least one year in Russia or Russian territory.

putin netanyahu

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 21, 2016. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Russia and Israel have signed a treaty that will enable immigrants from Russia who were previously employed there to receive pension payments, the National Insurance Institute announced Monday. The treaty was discussed at a meeting of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee.

The treaty, which was signed in recent months, is the result of years of discussion between the two countries. It applies to every immigrant who worked for at least one year in Russia or Russian territory, even if they had to later give up their citizenship. Attorney Jacob Sasporte, director for international agreements at the National Insurance Institute, said that an estimated 60,000 people will benefit from the new treaty.

He explained that Russians who came to Israel after 1993 could keep their Russian citizenship and thus automatically had the right to their Russian pensions without the need of any treaty; some 30,000 olim are already receiving a Russian pension. The treaty was needed, however, for refuseniks who moved to Israel from the former Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s and were forced to give up their Russian citizenship, thus losing their pension rights.

The treaty has yet to be ratified by the two governments due to technical procedures, but Sasporte expects this to happen in the coming weeks.

He also assured the committee that similar treaties would be signed soon with Argentina, Poland and Brazil. Accords have also been signed recently with Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, and already exist with most Western European countries. The attorney also noted that Latvia has resisted such a treaty.

Immigration and Absorption Committee chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) praised the achievement but called for a similar treaty to be implemented with Ukraine. In 2012, such an agreement was signed with Kiev, but it has not been ratified due to the war there. Many Ukrainians have moved to Israel since the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beytenu) called on the Foreign Ministry to prioritize the realization of additional treaties with more countries in order to ease the economic situations of many olim. In a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post, Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) described the pension reform as “revolutionary,” saying it is an important step in improving conditions for immigrants.

Foreign Ministry representative Yaakov Livneh clarified that the treaty applies only to territories of the Russian Federation as it stands today, but negotiations are also under way with Belarus and Moldova.