- Latvian Foreign Policy Institutepublished the Latvian Foreign Policy and Security Yearbook 2015
Vesti Segodnya reports about the Latvian Foreign Policy and Security Yearbook 2015 published by the Latvian Foreign Policy Institute. In a chapter “Will Latvia be Putin’s Next Victim in 2015” written by former head of the Constitution Protection Bureau Janis Kazocins believes that the risk that something similar to current events in Eastern Ukraine could be repeated in Latvia and the other Baltic States is very low. Mr Kazocins believes that although the existence of Russian speaking minorities in Latvia is politically useful for Russia, the majority of them are Latvia’s patriots and are well-integrated. At the same time, he also believes that there is a potential threat form the idea of a universally elected President in Latvia, as “the employment of populist campaigning methods along with widespread use of funding from unclear, foreign sources could end with Latvia having what one local journalist has described as a “little green president.”
- Discussion on how to counter Russia’s propaganda held in Riga
Vesti Segodnya reports about discussion “Propaganda of Censored Media in Information Space” organised by the Latvian Transatlantic Organisation. Participants, including the MPs and journalists, discussed the impact of Russia’s propaganda distributed through media on the society and how to counter it. According to the head of the National Council on Electronic Mass Media Ainars Dimants, production of content in Russian language in local media could help to neutralise Russia’s propaganda and meet the needs of Russian speaking residents. The funding granted to public media for Russian language programmes in 2014 already helped to increase the audience of the Latvian Television Channel 7. Mr Dimants also informed that Latvian television currently is working on a concept of a new Russian language channel which would be able to produce content for diverse audience.
- Vesti Segodnya interviews the head of the State Language Centre Maris Baltins
- Society Integration Foundation is granted state funding in amount of EUR 801,432 in 2015
Vesti Segodnya interviews the head of the State Language Centre (SLC) Maris Baltins. According to Mr Baltins, the main aim of the SLC is to strengthen Latvian language and to achieve that it functions in all areas of life in Latvia. Mr Baltins stresses that the SLC is not Russophobic institution and any restriction on the use of other languages is introduced only in order to achieve functioning of the state language and is based on the common sense and law. He also stresses that there is no restrictions for private life and communication. Commenting the ban by SLC on distributing invitation for screening of cervical cancer in Russian language, Mr Baltins says that the invitations were addressed to women of working age who should be proficient in Latvian language. He believes that information distributed by state institutions in foreign languages destroys people’s efforts to learn Latvian. Mr Baltins also believes that bilingual education system ensures balanced approach and is one of the success stories for Latvia.
The Saeima’s Citizenship, Migration and Society Consolidation Committee met with representatives of the Society Integration Foundation (SIF) in order to discuss use of the state funds. According the SIF, in 2015, the government granted EUR 801,432 for implementation of different projects, including EUR 331, 387 for diaspora projects, EUR 311,912 for support of civil society, EUR 158,133 for society integration. From the funding aimed for integration projects, EUR 113,830 will be provided for organisation of state language courses. 11% of the budget the SIF spends for administrative needs. Latvijas Avize
- Popularisation of separatist ideas appeared also in Lithuania and Estonia
- Days of Russian Culture in Latvia will be conducted from February to April
Latvijas Avize reports that at the same as the page called “Latgale People’s Republic” appeared on Facebook, pages called “Vilnius (Wilneska) People’s Republic” and “Baltic Rus Republic” also appeared. The first one claims to represent Polish, Russian and Belorussian residents discriminated in Lithuania who want to separate the Vilnius region from Lithuania establishing an independent republic. The second one popularises idea of the Russian autonomous region in the East of Estonia with its centre in Narva. Creators of all three pages call each other allies and partners. In an interview with the newspaper, the MP Juris Viljums (resident of Latgale, eastern Latvian region) says that the Latgalian NGOs condemned the separatist ideas and asserts that the majority of Latgalians is absolutely loyal towards Latvia and perceive themselves as integral part of Latvia’s state.
Vesti Segodnya reports about the Days of Russian Culture in Latvia planned to be held in different Latvian regions from February to April. The festivity this year also celebrates 90th anniversary since foundation of the Days of Russian Culture in Latvia.
- Heads of local governments in Latgale deny that there are separatist tendencies in the region
- MP Edvins Snore questions whether the Latvian Council of Jewish Communities can represent all the Jewish community on the issue of restitution of properties
Heads of local governments in Latgale (region in the Eastern part of Latvia) deny that there are separatist tendencies in the region. According to them, people feel united and attached to Latvia regardless of their ethnic affiliation and are more concerned about social problems. As reported, popularisation of the idea of Latgale as independent region began in social networks, including publication of Latvia’s map on which Latgale is shown as a separate region called “Latgale People’s Republic.” Neatkariga
Vesti Segodnya reports that the MP, member of the National Union Edvins Snore in an interview with Latvian Radio stated that return of five buildings to the Latvian Council of Jewish Communities is too much. He also questioned whether particularly this organisation can represent all the Jewish community in Latvia and especially those community’s members who resided in Latvia before the country lost its independence in 1940. Besides, many Jews who live in Latvia now, arrived into the country after the WWII and it is unknown whether the leader of this organisation is proficient in Latvian, said E.Snore. Discussions about restitution of Jewish properties lost during the Holocaust in Latvia continue for many years. Recently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepared a drat law about return of a number of buildings possessed by the Jewish Community before the WWII.