Dec. 5, 2012

  • Complaints about language discrimination in school Olympiads
  • Andrejs Berdnikovs: Sarmite Elerte is seeking revenge and the “Unity” will play tough on ethnic issues


The regulations issued by the Cabinet of Ministers envisages that starting from 2013, all school Olympiads will be conducted only in the state language, thus excluding Russian language from the possibility to receive information about the tasks and provide answers. The newspaper reminds that during the recent years, several attempts were made to exclude Russian from communication. A teacher and former MP Jakovs Pliners believes the new regulations are unfair and calls the Prime Minister to restore equal opportunities of Latvian and Russian pupils. The Head of the Consultative Council on the Education of Ethnic Minorities of the Ministry of Education Romans Alievs also believes that languages should not be restricted, because the pupil might misunderstand the task and fail; besides, testing the knowledge of the state language is not the goal of the school Olympiads. The head of the Latvian Association in Support of Schools with Russian Language of Instruction (LAShOR) and an MP Igors Pimenovs together with four other MPs (Concord Centre) sent a letter to the Prime Minister, pointing out that the new regulations put the pupils of minority schools into unequal situation: the pupils might misunderstand the tasks given in the state language therefore make errors. Vesti Segodnya


A political scientist, ex-advisor of the Minister of Culture on integration issues Andrejs Berdnikovs believes that the decision of the political party “Unity” to nominate the former Minister of Culture Sarmite Elerte as a candidate to the post of the Mayor of Riga is a “spit in the face of the Russian voters” and a sign that the “Unity” will play tough on ethnic issues and is unwilling to make any compromises. According to Berdnikovs, Sarmite Elerte as a person is uncompromising and currently seeking revenge. Mr.Berdnikovs believes that if the “Unity” wins the elections, Mrs.Elerte would try to ban the annual celebration of the Victory over Nazism on 9 May. Chas

Dec. 4, 2012

  • Reforms Party proposes to allow choosing one additional day in a year for celebrating important religious events
  • Candidate for the post of the Mayor of Riga Baiba Broka: power in Riga should be overtaken by ethnic Latvians
  • Chairman of the Union of Politically Repressed Persons: Russian community of Latvia is not responsible for the Communist repressions

The Reforms Party (RP) proposes to allow employees to choose one additional day in a year for celebrating important religious events. The RP proposed similar draft amendments in March 2012, however, it was not even discussed at the coalition’s meeting. Diena

A candidate for the post of the Mayor of Riga from the nationalists union All for Latvia!-FF/LNIM Baiba Broka in an interview with TV channel LNT stated that “After (municipal) elections it is necessary to establish a coalition of ethnic Latvian parties and the power in Riga should be overtaken by ethnic Latvians.” At present, the Mayor of Riga is Nils Usakovs who represents party the Concord Centre and is ethnic Russian. The Ex-Minister of the Regional Development Edgars Zalans, in his turn, an interview with Chas, stated Riga has always been multinational city and it is wrong to say that it should be returned to ethnic Latvian. Mr Zalans also stated that at the moment, none of the parties is capable to propose a successful alternative to compete against Nils Usakovs at present. Chas, Vesti Segodnya

Yesterday, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Monument to the Victims of the Communist Repressions the chairman of the Union of Politically Repressed Persons Gunars Resnais stated that the politicians are setting up against each other ethnic Latvians and ethnic Russians, which is unfair, because the Russian community of Latvia is not responsible for the Communist repressions and in everyday life the people get along well with each other. He believes the Monument could become a bridge which unites the society, because the Communist repressions impacted all communities. In the meantime, he also believes that those Russian speakers, who arrived during the Soviet era and lost their identity and language, are a “plaque, which paddles on our ethnic feelings”. The monument was funded by the Riga City Council and the opening ceremony was attended by various politicians. Chas, NRA

Dec. 3, 2012

  • Congress of a political party Unity focuses on the forthcoming municipal elections in Riga
  • Patriarch Cyril of the Russian Orthodox Christian Church criticizes Latvia for problem regarding Russian language and non-citizens
  • Sestdiena interviews a woman who immigrated from Ukraine to Latvia
  • Activists for non-citizens’ rights held adiscussion in Strasbourg

Newspapers report about a congress of a political party Unity held last weekend. Party’s leaders put the main emphasis on the forthcoming municipal elections and in particular on municipal elections in Riga. The candidate to the Mayor of Riga Sarmite Elerte stated that Riga should be ethnically Latvian and at the same time it should be European, diverse, multilingual, open, and dynamic and create city. Mrs Elerte stated that Riga will not become two-lingual, two-community and split city. Vesti Segodnya, Chas, Diena, Latvijas Avize, Neatkariga

Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and all the Rus’ (Russian Orthodox Christian Church) during meeting with the Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs, stated if Latvia solves issues regarding status of Russian language and large-scale non-citizenship it will bring social peace and stability to the country. The Patriarch stated it is non-sense that Russian language has status of foreign language in Latvia when for 44% of its residents it is native language. Vesti Segodnya, Chas

Weekly magazine Sestdiena features an interview with one of a project’s AMITIE ambassador in Latvia Mira. Mira arrived to Latvia from Ukraine two years ago following her husband. At present, Mira works in Riga and studies for her third Masters degree in one of the Latvian universities. Mira is actively involved in the work of non-governmental organisations on issues concerning asylums seekers.  

More about the AMITIE project on and (in Latvian)

Vesti Segodnya reports about a discussion about non-citizenship problem in Latvia held at the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages in November 2012. The discussion was initiated by the MEP from Latvia Tatjana Zdanoka. According to the activists for non-citizens’ rights who participated in the Intergroup discussion, the large-scale non-citizenship in Latvia is the basis for discriminative policies against Russian language, schools, culture and the exclusion of ethnic Russian residents from the governance of the country.

Nov. 30, 2012

  • Security Police wants to close a number of radical organisations
  • ID cards issued to non-citizens are not valid for travelling within the Schengen states
  • Job advertisement requires “do not to switch on Russian music in the car”

According to the head of the Security Police (SP) Janis Reiniks, the SP gathers materials in order to close and ban several radical organisations active in Latvia. Newspaper Vesti Segodnya reports most likely the ban will concern the radical organisation “Centre of Gustavs Celmins” which promotes ultra right ideology and whose leader Igors Siskins recently got arrested for attempt to buy explosives.

Vesti Segodnya reports that Latvian ID cards issued to non-citizens are not valid for travelling within the Schengen states. The MP Boriss Cilevics (Concord Centre) believes that such fact puts non-citizens in unequal situation comparing to citizens because for Latvian citizens the ID cards are valid document for travelling in Europe. The Concord Centre asks the Minister of Foreign Affairs to explain the situation because both Latvian citizens and non-citizens do not need visas for travelling to these countries. 

A doctor in Daugavpils (mainly Russian speaking town close to Byelorussian border) published a job advertisement for the vacancy of a “car driver” listing as one of the job requirements “do not to switch on Russian music, Russian and Belorussian radio stations in the car in the presence of employer.” At the same time, the announcement says that the ethnic affiliation of a candidate does not matter. The doctor explained to the journalists that such requirement is based on the fact that he dislikes Russian music and prefers music in other languages. Experts interviewed by the journalists see nothing wrong in discriminating against specific language. Representative of the Latvian Employers’ Confederation Agnese Elksne stated that “employer is entitled to set restrictions on playing music at the workplace. The legal acts do not regulate actions of the employer regarding playing of music in specific language or of specific nations”. The head of the Equal Treatment Division of the Ombudsman’s Office Sarlote Berzina referred to the labour legislation and stated that the ban on listening music at the workplace is determined by the employer, which is envisioned in the internal labour regulations. Vesti Segodnya

Nov. 29, 2012

  • Sarmite Elerte will not use Russian language if becomes the Mayor of Riga
  • Ambassador of Egypt criticizes Latvia for inclusion of Egyptian citizens in so-called „black list”

The Unity’s candidate to the post of Riga Mayor Sarmite Elerte stated she will not use Russian language being a Mayor. Mrs Elerte believes the city Mayor should create favourable environment for Latvian language and it will promote learning of Latvian language by non-Latvians.  Vesti Segodnya

Vesti Segodnya reports that the Ambassador of Egypt to Latvia Mr Mohamed Osama Taha Elmagdoub criticizes Latvia for inclusion of Egyptian citizens in so-called „black list” and thus many Egyptians cannot receive visas to Latvia. The Ambassador also blames Latvian mass media warning residents of coming to Egypt due to conflicts in Cairo. The newspaper, in its turn, notes that Egypt itself adopted regulations which complicate entrance of Latvian non-citizens to the country demanding for additional requirements, thus treating Latvian non-citizens unequally to the citizens.

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