- Latvijas Avize interviews the Ombudsman Juris Jansons
- Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee proposes to add the notion of hate speech in the Criminal Code
- Ambassador of Russian Federation to Latvia Aleksandr Veshnyakov comments Russia’s plans to open Russian schools abroad
- Vesti Segodnya reports about a round table of the leaders of Russian NGOs in Latvia
Latvijas Avize interviews the Ombudsman Juris Jansons. The Ombudsman does not agree with the idea that integration in Latvia should become mutual process and that also ethnic Latvians should integrate. The Ombudsman believes that such approach does not correspond to historical situation in Latvia. Mr Jansons criticizes the director of the Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Science who asserted that bilingual education is a story of success for Latvia and criticized the monitoring of education in ethnic minority schools conducted by the Ombudsman’s Office. Mr Jansons says that after such announcements there is nothing to talk about with the Ministry. The Ombudsman also criticizes politicians and NGOs, including the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, which have criticized the Ombudsman for his statements regarding the bilingual education and proposal to transfer secondary education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language only.
Vesti Segodnya reports that the Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee proposes to add the notion of hate speech in the Article 78 of the Criminal Code in order to limit misleading information and distribution of hateful ideology towards Latvia. Presently, the Article 78 stipulates liability for incitement of ethnic and racial hatred. The newspaper notes that the reason why the MPs discussed such proposal is a program broadcasted on the First Baltic Channel (which mostly rebroadcasts programs of the Russia’s First Channel) in October 2013. The program was about events in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 13 January 1991 and its authors claimed that the people who got killed during the surrounding of the Vilnius TV tower were killed not by the soviet militaries but by provokers from the protestors’ side. Such program caused scandal in Lithuania and in Latvia where the Channel is registered. The National Electronic Mass Media Council fined the First Baltic Channel for biased program and ask the General Prosecutor’s Office asking to evaluate whether there was hate speech in the program. However, the General Prosecutor’s Office following the conclusion of the Security did not find incitement of ethnic hatred in it.
Vesti Segodnya prints an interview with the Ambassador of Russian Federation to Latvia Aleksandr Veshnyakov. Commenting a recent statement by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov about Russia’s plans to open Russian schools abroad, the Ambassador said that the program of Russian schools abroad is not finalised and adopted yet. But regarding Latvian situation, the Ambassador believes that it is possible to speak about opening of Sunday schools or additional education, for instance establishing such school at the embassy. Mr Veshnyakov stresses that such system is practised by many countries.
Vesti Segodnya reports about a round table of the leaders of Russian NGOs in Latvia. The participants discussed various activities organised by NGOs and problems those face. One of the problems highlighted by many participants was lack of support from state and prejudiced attitude towards Russian NGOs by state institutions.
- Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma: sooner or later education in all state funded schools in Latvia will be in Latvian language only
Vesti Segodnya reports that the Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma stated that sooner or later education in all state funded schools in Latvia will be in Latvian language only. According to Mrs Straujuma, it is important to explore economic and social preconditions for such idea, to evaluate and to clarify it, but sooner or later it will happen. The newspaper notes that the true plans of the governing coalition regarding the bilingual education are unclear yet as recently the Minster of Education Ina Druviete denied the fact that education in Latvia will be in Latvian language only.
- Congress of Non-citizens elected its own public ombudsman
- Latvijas Avize interviews the MP Ilma Cepane about the new version of the draft Preamble to the Constitution of Latvia
Vesti Segodnya reports about a session of the Congress of Non-citizens. The Congress decided to start a campaign on professional discrediting the Ombudsman Juris Jansons who according to the members of the Congress, by his recent statements violates his mandate. Therefore, the Congress elected its own public Ombudsman Jelena Bacinska. The Congress also plans to hold its own survey of Latvian residents about Latvia’s future and solution of the issue concerning non-citizenship in Latvia in case of the court approves that the decision of the Central Elections Committee to refuse initiation of a referendum on granting Latvian citizenship to non-citizens was legal.
Latvijas Avize interviews the head of the Saeima’s Legal Committee, MP Ilma Cepane about the new version of the draft Preamble or Introduction to the Constitution of Latvia. According to Mrs Cepane the author of the Preamble Egils Levits decided to withdraw the term “state nation” in the Preamble’s text due to extensive criticism from different experts that such term is unacceptable as it splits the society. However, Mrs Cepane believes that the term “state nation” is correct and its essence remained in the text of the new draft Preamble. According to Mrs Cepane, state nation are those residents who integrated into the state language, culture, historical memory and they consider themselves as state nation, but those who consider that they belong to other nation are ethnic minorities. Ilma Cepane hopes that the Introduction to the Constitution will be adopted during present parliamentary term.
- European Commission decided to refer Latvia to the Court of Justice of the EU
- Vesti Segodnya interviews the Minister of Education Ina Druviete
- 7353 residence permits were issued in 2013
The European Commission decided to refer Latvia to the Court of Justice of the European Union because it allows only Latvian nationals to take up and practise the profession of notary. The Court of Justice of the EU already ruled in May 2011 (case against Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Austria and The Netherlands) that such nationality requirements are contrary to the principle of freedom of establishment, and that the activities of notaries are not covered by an exception concerning activities linked to public authority. Latvia was also asked to change the existing requirements regarding nationality of notary, but no actions have been taken. Vesti Segodnya, Diena
Vesti Segodnya interviews the Minister of Education Ina Druviete about the fact that the new government coalition envisages transition of ethnic minority schools to education in Latvian language only starting with 1 September 2018. According to Mrs Druviete, the government coalition does not say that education in Latvia will be in Latvian language only. Mrs Druviete says that Latvian schools are not divided by ethnic principle but there are schools which use education programs in ethnic minority languages and these programs will remain. Mrs Druviete says that the task is to ensure high level of state language proficiency which would guarantee unity of the society and competitiveness of school graduators. Ensuring language and culture of ethnic minorities is also an important task. Taking into account these two tasks the government thinks how to improve education in ethnic minority languages – says the Minister. According to Mrs Druviete, as of 2018 the majority of schools should use the first model of bilingual education according to which all the subjects are in Latvian except native language, literature and culture. The Minister plans to discuss the issue on increase of Latvian language lessons in kindergartens and to meet with directors of ethnic minority schools discussing situation and models of bilingual education used.
According to Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, 7353 residence permits were issued in 2013 which is 977 permits more than in 2012. The biggest number of residence permits (2751) was granted to foreigners who bought real estate in Latvia. 1372 permits were granted concerning employment and commerce activities in Latvia. 1300 permits were granted for study purpose in Latvia, 663 foreigners received permits due to family ties. The majority of foreigners who received residence permit through large investments into Latvian economy were Russian (3090) and Chinese (445) citizens. Leader of the nationalists’ union All for Latvia!/FF-LNIM, MP Raivis Dzintars criticizing the existing system of granting residence permits to foreign investors as one of the arguments mentioning that some investors are connected to Russia’s security bodies and political organisations. Mr Dzintars also believes that “sale” of residence permits negatively impacts ethnic Latvian cultural environment. Neatkariga
- Minister of Education Ina Druviete: idea of Russia’s schools in Latvia is politically and legally unacceptable
Commenting Russia’s plans announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov to open Russia’s schools in Latvia, the new Minister of Education Ina Druviete stated that such idea is politically and legally unacceptable. According to the Minister, education program in all schools including private should correspond with Latvian standards, with the only exclusion of two education establishments – the International School of Latvia and Riga French School which have been established on the basis of a cross-country agreement. At the same time, another representative of the Ministry of Education supposes that the model of a Sunday school is the only option how Russia’s schools could possibly work in Latvia. Latvijas Avize