The Post performed a useful service in reporting the unwillingness of the State Department to press Russia to return artwork and other private property the Soviets confiscated from their citizens and others during and after the Bolshevik revolution ["Lenin's Spoils Given Pass by U.S. Officials," front page, Dec. 15]. But the State Department also has given little support to U.S. citizen claimants whose property was confiscated at the same time and under the same circumstances.

In 1934 the incoming administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union. Part of the deal involved the "Litvinov Assignment." Under this agreement, the value of impounded property in the United States that had been owned by the previous czarist government was to be distributed to Americans whose Russian property had been confiscated without compensation by the Soviet authorities. The distribution, however, covered only 9 percent of principal and no interest on property claims that by then already were 16 years old and were 38 years old by the time the distribution was made in 1956.

The Litvinov Assignment specified that the distribution would not be considered full satisfaction of the claims of the U.S. victims.

In the 68 years that have past since the Litvinov Assignment the State Department has rarely even bothered to give lip service to the need for Russia to satisfy the balance of these claims, now 84 years old.



The writer is a claimant for restitution on behalf of his late father, an American businessman and newspaper correspondent in Russia during the revolution whose apartment and belongings were confiscated.