- Saeima once again refused to grant the status of a bank holiday to the Orthodox and Old Believers’ Christmas
Yesterday, the majority of the Saeima once again refused a proposal of the Concord Centre to grant the status of a bank holiday to the Orthodox and Old Believers’ Christmas on 7 January. The proposal was supported only by the oppositional parties. Despite the fact that in the beginning of this year, the Reforms Party proposed a compromise option to set that once a year every person have the right to take one extra day-off, none of the Reforms Party members supported the Concord Centre's proposal this time. Head of the Concord Centre’s faction Valerijs Agesins stated that those MPs who voted against Orthodox Christmas spat in the face of 400,000 Latvian residents. Vesti Segodnya
- Vesti Segodnya: Ombudsman Juris Jansons compared teachers in minority schools who have insufficient state language proficiency with murderers
- Leader of the nationalists’ union Raivis Dzintars: Latvianisation of education system would be a real support to the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman Juris Jansons in an interview with radio Baltkom compared Russian minority schools' teachers who are not proficient in Latvian language with incompetent doctors whose work may lead to death of the patient. Later the Ombudsman explained that comparing the teachers with murderers is a metaphor and stressed that he wanted to say that teachers should be especially competent in knowledge of their subject and proficient in Latvian language. The Ombudsman informed the State Language Centre about seven teachers in minority schools and the State Language Inspection punished six of them. The Ombudsman stated that teachers who are not proficient in Latvian language break the law and rights of children. Vesti Segodnya
Leader of the nationalists’ union All for Latvia! Raivis Dzintars stated that Latvianisation of education system would be a real support to the Ombudsman. Raivis Dzintars believes that amendments to the Education Law should set a specific date when the education in state funded schools will be transferred into Latvian language only, for instance, it can happen in 2018 when Latvia will celebrate its 100th anniversary. “After that we can discuss – whether to start with kindergartens or primary classes or as proposed by the Ombudsman to transfer education in Latvian only in all secondary schools” – said Mr. Dzintars. Latvijas Avize
- Representative of the Ombudsman’s Office: proposal of the Ombudsman to transfer education in all secondary schools into Latvian language only was misunderstood
- Igors Pimenovs: LAShOR does not support the proposal of the Ombudsman
- Sub-committee on Patriotic Education supports proposal to set the proportion of Latvian music on Latvian radio stations in amount of 40%.
Representative of the Ombudsman’s Office Ruta Silina, in an interview with Telegraf, says that the proposal of the Ombudsman to transfer education in all secondary schools into Latvian language only was misunderstood. According to Mrs Silina, the Ombudsman cares about quality of education of students in Russian language schools and there is no question about transfer of education in all schools into Latvian only but about how to ensure quality of bilingual education in national minority schools. As reported, the presentation of the results of monitoring of bilingual education conducted by the Ombudsman’s Office stated that because 50% of students in national minority schools have good Latvian language skills there should be the transition to instruction in Latvian language only.
According to the Head of the Latvian Association for Support of Schools with Russian Language of Instruction (LAShOR), MP Igors Pimenovs (Concord Centre), the LAShOR does not support the proposal of the Ombudsman to transfer education in all national minority schools into Latvian language only. Mr Pimenovs believes that such action would split the society on ethnic lines and it would violate Latvia's international commitments and historical traditions of education in minority languages. At the same time, commenting the fact that the Ombudsman Juris Jansons was appointed to this post by the initiative of the Concord Centre, Mr Pimenovs says that, presently, the party is not planning to demand the resignation of the Ombudsman and, in general, evaluates the Ombudsman’s work as successful. Vesti Segodnya
The Saeima’s sub-committee on Patriotic Education supported a proposal of the Latvian Association on Development of Musical Industry to set that the proportion of Latvian music on Latvian radio stations should be 40%. It is proposed to set that 20% of music should be in Latvian language and 20% - music produced in Latvia. Vesti Segodnya
- Ombudsman Juris Jansons gives his clarification to international organisations about situation with non-citizens in Latvia
Latvijas Avize reports that the Ombudsman Juris Jansons has sent a letter to the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe giving his clarification regarding situation with non-citizens in Latvia. The Ombudsman believes that some NGOs, and in particular the Congress of Non-citizens, mislead the international organisations about the situation with non-citizens. In the letter, the Ombudsman says Latvian non-citizens use all the fundamental rights foreseen by the Latvian Constitution and international documents and there are only two exceptions regarding the rights to occupy posts which are connected to state power and judiciary and the voting rights. The Ombudsman believes that the notion “non-citizens” misleads the understanding of this status on international level as it is not equal with the status of aliens or foreign nationals or stateless persons. The Ombudsman proposes to use the notion which clearly explains the status of this group of persons – former USSR citizens without Latvian or other state’s citizenship. The Ombudsman also believes that the equality principle allows and even demands for different treatment towards persons who are in different situation and, thus, difference in amount of rights of Latvian citizens and non-citizens cannot be considered as discriminatory.
- Ministry of Finances provides on request informational edition about transition into Euro in Russian language
Vesti Segodnya reports that the Liepaja Russian Community on its request received from the Ministry of Finances 5,000 copies of informational edition about transition into Euro in Russian language. The Ministry of Finances issued 200,000 copies of the edition in Russian language with a view to distribute those among Latvian residents. However, the State Language Centre restricted the distribution arguing that the state institutions are allowed to provide informative materials in foreign languages only on request. The newspaper also quotes the directors of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights Anhelita Kamenska who said that the state language requirements regarding the distribution of information in foreign languages should be revised as the situation in many cases becomes absurd.