Germany raises payments to communist-era prisoners

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BERLIN (AP) — The German government is increasing by 20 percent payments to former political prisoners in communist East Germany, a move that comes a few weeks before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

People on low incomes who were imprisoned for political reasons for at least 180 days under communist rule are eligible for the payments, introduced in 2007 and not increased since. They currently get up to 250 euros ($316) per month. The Cabinet decided Wednesday to raise that to 300 euros ($378) starting Jan. 1.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas says the increase recognizes "the commitment of those who rebelled against the system as pioneers for freedom, democracy and a united Germany."

A group representing the victims of communist repression, however, says it's not enough.

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