- MEP from Latvia Krisjanis Karins: aim of integration policy is assimilation
- MP Janis Urbanovics will vote for the Constitutional amendments granting Russian language status of a state language in Latvia at the up-coming national referendum
The MEP from Latvia Krisjanis Karins (the Unity) stated that the aim of integration policy is assimilation of ethnic minorities. Mr Karins stated that assimilation should begin with children. Mr Karins also stated that there should be one common system of state schools in which children from various families would study in Latvian language. Chas, Vesti SegodnyaHead of the SaeimaÃ‚Â’s faction Concord Centre Janis Urbanovics stated that he will vote for the Constitutional amendments granting Russian language status of a state language in Latvia at the up-coming national referendum. Mr Urbanovics explained such decision by solidarity with the voters of the Concord Centre and by protest against the governing coalition. As a response to such statement, the Speaker of the Parliament Solvita Aboltina stated that those who support the referendum are against the Latvian state.
Head of the Saeimas faction Concord Centre Janis Urbanovics stated that he will vote for the Constitutional amendments granting Russian language status of a state language in Latvia at the up-coming national referendum. Mr Urbanovics explained such decision by solidarity with the voters of the Concord Centre and by protest against the governing coalition. As a response to such statement, the Speaker of the Parliament Solvita Aboltina stated that those who support the referendum are against the Latvian state. Chas, Vesti Segodnya
- Telegraf writes about the situation of asylum-seekers in Latvia
- The Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs will participate in the referendum in order to demonstrate problems of ethnic policies in Latvia
- Chas draws comparisons between the current policies and 1932-1933
During 1998-2011, 702 persons asked for asylum in Latvia, including 335 in 2011. Currently, 39 persons have refugee status and 67 persons have alternative status in Latvia. According to the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, the number of unaccompanied minors among forced migrants is also growing. NGO Safe House tries to assist refugees in resolving social issues, such as access to healthcare, housing and employment. The refugees and asylum-seekers do not understand how the healthcare system works in Latvia and there are instances when the healthcare workers are cheating – demanding money for medical services and operations which are paid for by the state, asking to sign documents in Latvian without providing translation. After the state support is over, refugees have to find employment to support themselves. There is no coherent integration programme, opportunities to learn Latvian are few, and lack of language proficiency limits access to employment. The Safe House and Employers' Confederation unsuccessfully tried to soften language requirements in employment. The Safe House is also contacting employers to find employment for refugees. Telegraf
The Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs (Concord Centre) declared that he will participate in the referendum on 18 February and vote in favour of constitutional amendments granting Russian the status of the second official language. Mr.Usakovs claims that this vote is the only tool available for many people who want to demonstrate to the authorities their discontent with the current ethnic policies in Latvia. He believes the referendum will not endanger the status of Latvian language and declared that he does not support Russian as the second state language. Mr.Usakovs believes Russian should not be treated as a foreign language and should be officially recognised as national minority language. Chas, Vesti-Segodnya
Chas draws comparisons between the current policies and 1932-1933. In 1932 the Minister of Education drew plans to liquidate Russian and German teachers institutes and minority secondary schools (gymnasiums) and on 3 February 1933 the Minister proposed to the Saeima a draft law on liquidation of minority gymnasiums, arguing that this would save state funds and bring Latvian and minority students closer to each other. The bill was rejected by the majority in the Saeima (25 MPs voted in favour, 66 against) and the government subsequently resigned. Chas notes that these proposals were actively opposed by minority organisations, press and MPs (Russian, German, Polish, Jewish). Chas also notes that unlike now, Latvian social democrats were one of the two biggest political parties during the first independence, and the social democrats opposed liquidation of minority education.
- Proposal to use taxpayers money to explain fundamental values on the eve of language referendum
Newspapers report various opinions about the proposal to use taxpayers money to explain to the voters fundamental values of Latvian state on the eve of the upcoming national referendum on amending the Constitution by adding the condition about Russian as the second official language. The Speaker of the Saeima Solvita Aboltina (Unity) already formulated that the ideological leadership for this initiative could be entrusted to the former Minister of Culture Sarmite Elerte (Unity). Many commentators and politicians are sceptical about the proposal, while some are questioning neutrality of the campaign and warning against instructing voters with correct answer to the referendum. Another source of discontent is the suspicion that the state-financed campaign could be used to promote one specific political party and one of its leaders. Russian-language newspapers remark that this proposal represents a rare occasion when the mainstream politicians are willing to talk to the Russian minority. The majority of experts and politicians, including the President, believe that the constitutional amendments will not receive 771,350 votes required for the amendments to enter into force. Diena, Latvijas Avize, NRA, Chas, Vesti Segodnya
- Developments regarding upcoming national referendum
Newspapers report about the developments regarding upcoming national referendum on amending the Constitution by adding the condition about Russian is the second official language. According to the decision of the Central Election Commission, the referendum will take place on 18 February 2012, and the voters will be asked to decide whether they support the proposed amendments. The Central Election Commission declined to publish the names of those MPs who signed for the Draft Amendments to the Constitution, arguing that processing such information is outside of competences of the Commission. As reported, upon the initiative of the radical nationalist union All for Latvia / For Fatherland and Freedom / Latvian National Independence Movement, the Saeimas Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee requested the Central Election Commission to publish the names of those MPs who signed for the Draft Amendments to the Constitution. Chas, Diena, Latvijas Avize, NRA, Vesti Segodnya
- Relevance of ideas of Janis Rainis to civil participation and society integration discussed
Latvijas Avize reports about a discussion organised at the House-Museum devoted to the memory of two famous Latvian poets Janis Rainis and Aspazija. Participants discussed that some ideas highlighted by Rainis during the 1920-ies may be relevant to the present situation, such as his insistence on importance of individual initiative and civil participation in social processes. The term Latvijiesi was also discussed as a civic notion which describes the people of different ethnic affiliations (including minority identity) united by their deep emotional and intellectual links to Latvia.