- Vesti Segodnya prints an interview with director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights Anhelita Kamenska
- Saeima’s Legal Committee changed and approved the draft amendments stipulating punishment for denial of occupation
Vesti Segodnya prints an interview with director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights Anhelita Kamenska. Regarding the possible transition of education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language Ms Kamenska says that there should be not only political but also logical justification for such reform. Ms Kamenska highlights that presently there are no single authoritative independent researches which would show that situation with bilingual education is so poor that as a result graduates of ethnic minority schools are uncompetitive. On the contrary, there are studies showing that Latvian language proficiency of ethnic minority students have sufficiently increased during the past 10 years. Ms Kamenska also believes that such reforms should be analysed with a view on human rights taking into account one of the basic principles - effective participation of ethnic minorities in elaboration of issues directly affecting them. Ms Kamenska believes that the Ombudsman by his position regarding bilingual education lost the trust of ethnic minorities. Anhelita Kamenska also criticizes too strict regulations on usage of state and foreign languages and believes that the language is not the matter of politics but it is just a communication tool. Ms Kamenska also believes that political rhetoric in Latvia do not reflect real mood of the society and the average Latvian resident is much more moderate than average politician. According to Ms Kamenska, Latvian non-citizens should be granted voting rights in local elections as they have close ties with the state, but at the same time, it is wrong to maintain the illusions that Latvian citizenship will be granted to non-citizens automatically.
Despite the fact that last week the governing coalition decided to suspend the draft amendments to the Criminal Law stipulating punishment for public denial of occupation, yesterday, the Saeima’s Legal Committee made some changes in the text and approved the draft amendments. The first version stipulated 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. The phrase “malicious, rude or offensive attempt” of the old draft version is replaced by “gross trivialization” of aggression in the new draft version. As reported, such draft amendments were criticized by the Security Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Vesti Segodnya
- Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma: the government will not amend the Education Law
The Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma in an interview with Telegraf commenting the plans of the governing coalition to transfer education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language says that the present government will not amend the Education Law. According to the Prime Minister, the effective law stipulates more extensive learning of Latvian language in schools but only unforced learning. At the same time, Mrs Straujuma says that gradual increase of Latvian language proportion is possible but there should remain subjects taught in native language.
- Three applications are submitted for organisation of events commemorating Latvian Waffen SS legionaries in Riga on 16 March
- Activists for defence of Russian language schools will discuss possible protest methods
- ex-Minister of Education Roberts Kilis: idea to transfer education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language is delirious
Three applications are submitted to the Riga City Council for organisation of events and procession commemorating Latvian Waffen SS legionaries in the centre of Riga on 16 March. Two applications are submitted by organisations “Hawks of Daugava (Daugavas vanagi)” and “Let’s play (Paspelesimies)” and one by a private person. Vesti Segodnya, Latvijas Avize
Vesti Segodnya reports that activists of the Headquarters for Defence of Russian Language Schools and forum For Progress in Latvia are planning to conduct a meeting with all residents who are interested in non-violent protest methods against transition of ethnic minority schools into Latvian language on 28 February.
According to the ex-Minister of Education Roberts Kilis, an idea to transfer education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language is delirious. Mr Kilis sees no rational basis for such reform and believes it is connected with the up-coming elections. Mr Kilis also believes that language of education is a very important issue and it should be solved by the education experts and parents. Speculations around Russian language schools will draw away attention from other important problems in the education system. Vesti Segodnya
- First new solemn ceremony on granting Latvian citizenship to persons who went through the naturalisation process conducted on 21 February
- Congress of Non-Citizens timed discussed education in ethnic minority schools in Latvia
- Conference about historical developments and the current situation of languages in Latvia
Latvijas Avize reports about the first new solemn ceremony on granting Latvian citizenship to persons who went through the naturalisation process. The Ceremony was conducted in the building of the Latvian Parliament. The Chairperson of the Saeima Solvita Aboltina in her speech at the ceremony said that citizenship is not only a legal act and passport – it is much closer sense of belonging and confidence that a person wants and can live in this country. The new citizens gave a solemn promise which says that they will be loyal to Latvia, protect Latvian independence, strengthen Latvian language as the only state language, live and work honestly in order to enhance welfare of the state and people.
Vesti Segodnya reports about the session of the Congress of Non-Citizens timed to the international Day of Native Language. The main issue for discussions was education in ethnic minority schools in Latvia. According to one of the leaders of the Congress Elizabete Krivcova, 40% of ethnic minorities in Latvia are non-citizens and as they do not have political rights they cannot impact the government including issues concerning education of their children. As education is one of the key aspects for preservation of ethnic identity, the government plans to switch national minority schools into Latvian language is very important issue and the Congress will use non-violent methods of protests against it.
Forum “For Progress in Latvia” organised a scientific-practical conference “Native Word Preserves Culture” on 21 February in Riga. The participants discussed historical developments and the current situation of Russian and Latvian languages and cultures in Latvia. Co-chairman of Latvian Human Rights Committee Vladimirs Buzaevs highlighted statistics to show the competitiveness of minorities in Latvia decreased since 2004 (transition of 60% of subjects in minority schools to Latvian language of instruction) and reminded that during the Soviet era, the Minister of Education Ina Druviete studied in school in Latvian. Vesti Segodnya
- Opinion survey: 41% of respondents support transition of education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language
According to a public opinion survey conducted by a research company “Snapshots”, 41% of respondents support transition of education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language. 32% do not support such reform believing that it would be discrimination of ethnic minorities. 11% believe that such reform will not change anything as schools will continue to educate in convenient language. weekly Setsdiena