Integration monitor is a daily Latvian press digest on ethnic minority and society integration issues. The Monitor reviews the biggest Latvian dailies: Diena, Latvijas Avize, Neatkariga (in Latvian language), Vesti Segodnya (in Russian language). In specific cases other information sources are used. Latvian Centre for Human Rights is not responsible for information published by the media.
- Two years passed since the referendum on granting Russian language status of a state language in Latvia
- „Russian Dawn” prepares an initiative for national referendum aimed at solving problems of Russian speaking residents
- Governing coalition suspended the draft amendments to the Criminal Law stipulating punishment for public denial of USSR and Nazi German aggression against Latvia
Newspapers reports that today, a two-year mark has passed since the referendum on granting Russian language the status of a state language in Latvia. According to Vesti Segodnya, the referendum resulted in toughening of some legal requirements. For instance, the Saeima made more complicated a procedure on initiating of national referendum; the Labour Law was amended with prohibition to indicate in a job announcement requirements for foreign language proficiency without good reasons. Moreover, the new governing coalition agreed about transition of education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language starting with 2018. Latvijas Avize interviews politicians and experts on what is their opinion about the consequences of the referendum. Thus, the ex-Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis says that following the referendum, the government has elaborated a program for upcoming years and granted funding in amount of more than 1 million euros for Latvian language courses, cooperation with NGOs, elaboration of materials about Latvian language to ethnic minority schools; and for support of TV programs about history. Mr Dombrovskis believes that the referendum resulted in the biggest discussion about fundamental values for Latvia during the last 20 years and helped residents to understand their duties before the state and nation. The MP Raivis Dzintars (nationalists union) believes the referendum showed how big is potential of its initiators to mobilise ideologically part of the Latvian society. He also believes that in order to prevent such initiatives in future the government at least should introduce patriotic education program in schools, adopt the “brave” Preamble to the Constitution, or to prohibit discrimination of those who are not proficient in Russian. A well-known writer and journalist Marina Kostonecka believes that the referendum was a huge provocation and the main aim of its initiators was to draw attention at problems ethnic Russian residents have in general, however, the politicians did nothing to find the real reasons and decrease the split in the society.
The movement „Russian Dawn” and its leaders Illarions Girs and Jevgenijs Osipovs are preparing an initiative for national referendum aimed at solving problems of Russian speaking residents of Latvia. “Russian Dawn” will demand for restoration of education in Russian language as it existing before 2004; for depoliticization of naturalisation process, for recognition of non-Latvian names in native transliteration (without Latvianisation), for giving status of bank holidays to Christian Orthodox celebrations; for street signs in Russian language in regions densely populated by non-Latvians. According to “Russian Dawn” such legal initiative does not require amendments in the Constitution of Latvia and it should be supported by 229,429 persons. Vesti Segodnya
The governing coalition suspended the draft amendments to the Criminal Law stipulating punishment for public denial of USSR and Nazi German aggression against Latvia, for justification, glorification or for malicious, rude or offensive attempt to question the fact of aggression. According to a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such amendments are not coordinated with the bodies defending Latvia in international institutions and those were not evaluated in accordance with the court practice of the European Court of Human Rights.