- Security Police initiated criminal proceedings concerning the justification or glorification of genocide and war crimes committed by the USSR
- Vesti Segodnya prints an article by Aleksandrs Gilmans about the results and impact of language reform in minority schools introduced in 2004
- Lutheran priest Guntis Kalme: commemoration and honouring of the Latvian Legion and legionnaires is highly important
The Security Police initiated criminal proceedings against an activist of the radical pro-Russian party “For Native Language” Illarion Girs. The proceeding have been initiated in accordance with the Article 741 of the Criminal Law criminalises public glorification, refusal, justification or gross trivialisation of genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, and war crimes, including if those were committed by the USSR or Nazi Germany. In his publication named “Civil Disobedience to the Neo Nazi Latvian Dogma”, Illarion Girs writes: “I publicly deny the probability of statements about genocide in Latvia committed by the Soviet power. Years when Latvia was part of the USSR were the best for Latvian people from the perspective of welfare and prosperity, including for ethnic Latvians, because the peak of cultural development was reached during the Soviet era. Yes, I glorify the entry and stay of Latvia as part of the USSR from the position of common interests of the majority of multiethnic Latvian nation and it was forth it.” The newspaper also indicates that the complaint about Girs’ statements was submitted by Mr Girs himself in order to challenge Latvia’s Criminal Law provisions. Vesti Segodnya
Vesti Segodnya prints an article by Aleksandrs Gilmans, activist for defence of Russian language schools about the results and impact of language reform in minority schools introduced in 2004. According to Gilmans, in order to evaluate the impact of language reform on education quality it is important to conduct a study evaluating the results of centralised examins before and after the reform and to evaluate the competitiveness of Russian school language. Gilmans says that Vladimirs Buzajevs, currently member of Latvia’s Russian Union (formerly For Human Rights in United Latvia) and him have conducted their own research which showed that there are no major changes in the exam results before and after the reform. The only noticeable drop in results occurred in 2012 after the introduction of a centralised exam in the Latvian language for both school leavers of schools with Latvian language of instruction and minority schools. Gilmans claims that the language reform was useless and its aim was only ideological – to force Russian teachers to speak with Russian students in Latvian language. (Latvia has schools with Latvian language of instruction and schools carrying out bilingual education programmes resulting in 60%/40% (Latvia/minority language) language ratio in high schools).
Latvijas Avize interviews doctor of theology, Lutheran priest Guntis Kalme. Mr Kalme, who leads the 16 March commemoration march of the Latvian legion, believes the commemoration and honouring of the Latvian Legion and legionnaires is highly important because it shows that ethnic Latvians are patriots and warriors. Mr Kalme says that despite the fact that the Latvian legionnaires were fighting in the Nazi uniforms during the WWII they fought for Latvia’s freedom and it should be explained internationally. He claims that “one of the reasons why there is critical attitude towards the Latvian Waffen SS legionnaires is because the enemies they fought against, in the form of fifth column, continue to live in Latvia”. Mr Kalme also believes that integration in Latvia has failed and blames the “fifth column” controlled by Russia for the failure of integration.
- Vesti Segodnya reports about a lection by an expert in linguistic rights, professor Fernand de Varennes
- Saeima’s Committee conceptually supported establishment of a regional studio of the Latvian public media in Latgale
Vesti Segodnya reports about a lecture by an expert on linguistic rights, professor Fernand de Varennes. The lecture was arranged by Latvian Human Rights Committee in Riga. According to Mr de Varennes, the Baltic States, similarly to France, Greece and Turkey, do not recognize the rights of ethnic minorities in many areas, and this fact deteriorates the human rights system in Europe. The fact that the Council of Europe has agreed with the entry of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to the EU without ratification of the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities was later followed as an example by other countries, says de Varennes. He believes that, although 20 years have passed after the restoration of the Baltic States’ independence, the policy is still aimed at narrowing linguistic rights of minorities in these countries. As an example, the expert has mentioned the decrease of minority language proportion in minority schools and the ban of bilingual street signs in Latvia. He also believes that other European states have started to follow an example of the Baltic States in justifying limitation of minority rights by political and strategic objectives, as it was before the WWII. Mr de Varennes says that weakening the mechanism of minority protection leads towards the growth of separatist movements in Europe. In order to strengthen such a mechanism, Mr de Varennes proposes the transfer of the Framework Convention to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.
Yesterday, the Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee conceptually supported establishment of a regional studio of the Latvian public media in Latgale (Latvia’s Eastern region.) It is planned to locate the studio in Daugavpils or Rezekne. Two radio journalists would work there producing informative analytical broadcasts and news stories in Latvian and Russian languages. The aim of the establishment of such studio is to strengthen presence of Latvian public media in Latgale and to counter Russia’s propaganda.
- Vesti Segodnya reports about Ukrainian citizens escaping from the Eastern Ukraine to Latvia
- Minister of Education Marite Seile supports gradual increase of Latvian language proportion in minority schools
According to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA), there were 69 Ukrainians out of 335 asylum seekers in Latvia in 2014. According to a representative of the OCMA, in order to receive the status of refugee or alternative status in Latvia it is necessary to prove that an individual is persecuted because of his/her race, religion, ethnicity or social belonging, or political views and that there are threats to individual’s life, he/she is subjected to death penalty or torture. For Donbas residents it is difficult to receive such status in Latvia because within Ukraine there is sufficient safe space where they can find shelter from the military actions. Therefore, according to the OCMA, the most likely solution for those Ukrainian citizens who want to stay in Latvia during the military conflict is to apply for temporary residence permit which gives also the right to study and work, or to apply for long-term visa. During the first six months of 2014, 380 Ukrainians received residence permits in Latvia, while the number of those who received long-term visas is much higher but it is not separately recorded. Vesti Segodnya
In an interview with Latvijas Avize the Minister of Education Marite Seile says that she supports increase of Latvian language proportion in minority schools but she stresses that such transition should be gradual. The Minister also doubts that it could be accomplished by 2018 as it was planned by the previous government. According to the Minister, the ministry is currently working on a programme for Latvian language learning in pre-school education establishments. The programme possibly will promote involvement of not only little children but also their parents in the learning process.
- Cabinet of Ministers plans to adopt a decision on elaboration of a new law on management of the EU “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flow” programme 2014-2020
Tomorrow, the Cabinet of Ministers plans to adopt a decision on elaboration of a new law on management of the EU “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flow” programme 2014-2020. According to it, two foundations will be established for management of the funds – the Internal Security Foundation and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Foundation. The responsible institution for management of the funds will be Ministry of Interior, but the Ministry of Culture will be responsible for integration issues. Vesti Segodnya
- Saeima voted to start consideration of a proposal to grant Orthodox Christmas a status of official holiday in Latvia
- MP Andrejs Judins criticizes ethnic approach in the politics and ethnic voting
Yesterday, the Saeima voted to start consideration of a proposal to grant Orthodox Christmas (7 January) a status of official holiday in Latvia. Such proposal has been submitted to the Saeima every year by oppositional party the Concord but every time it was refused. The Concord believes that granting Orthodox Christmas the status of official holiday would have positive impact on integration and attitude of Orthodox Christians to the state authorities. The Concord’s proposal got support of 50 MPs. Vesti Segodnya, Diena, Latvijas Avize
Vesti Segodnya interviews MP Andrejs Judins - ethnic Russian member of the political party Unity. Mr Judins says that he is treated in the party as a deputy and a lawyer and not like ethnic Russian or Latvian. He criticizes ethnic approach in the politics and ethnic voting. He also says that it is wrong that politicians very often are expected to solve ethnic issues first of all.