Dec. 29, 2014

  • Building of an NGO Russian Community in Liepaja attacked on 26 December
  • Prime Minister: bilingual education has proven its efficiency
  • The Ministry of Interior proposes to grant the Cabinet of Ministers rights to evaluate impact of temporary residence permits on national security or economic development

Vesti Segodnya reports about attack on a building of an NGO Russian Community in Liepaja (city in the South-Western part of Latvia) in the early morning of 26 December. Unknown persons knocked out the front doors’ glass and placed in it Latvia’s flag. Representatives of the Russian Community in Liepaja believe that it was not only act of hooliganism and vandalism but also desecration of the state flag and attempt of incitement of ethnic hatred.

Vesti Segodnya interviews the Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma. The Prime Minister believes that bilingual education has proven its efficiency and there is no need for major changes. Mrs Straujuma believes that ethnic minority schools are better aware how to improve education system and how to consolidate ethnic Latvians and non-Latvians. She also believes that it is important to consider how to establish common informative space in order to inform Russian speaking residents about events happening in the state. 

The Ministry of Interior proposes to grant the Cabinet of Ministers rights to evaluate impact of temporary residence permits on national security or economic development and to set restrictions for issuing of permits for a specified time frame in case of potential risks. The draft law stipulates that the Cabinet of Ministers will evaluate impact of the number of third country nationals or their concentration on a specific territory on national security or economic development. The restriction would apply only to those foreigners who want to receive residence permits in return for investments in Latvian economy or purchase of expensive real estate. According to the Ministry, some of the potential risks are division of the civil society, formation of closed self-sufficient communities of a specific ethnic group of third country nationals whose integration could be embarrassing or even impossible. The Ministry stresses that growing migration intensity increases risks of ethnic conflicts and hate crimes. Diena

Dec. 22, 2014

  • The Minister of Education denies the transition of minority schools to teaching in state language was withheld because of concerns over possible protests during Latvia’s EU 2015 presidency
  • International conference "The Rights of the Child. Contemporary Challenges" held in Riga 

Vesti Segodnya interviews the Minister of Education Marite Seile. The Minister denies the claim that the decision to withhold the transition of national minority schools to teaching in the state language was motivated by an "order from Brussels", which allegedly was concerned with possible protests against the transition by representatives of national minorities during the first half of 2015, when Latvia will hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union. As reported, the previous government co-operation agreement foresaw the raising of the proportion of Latvian language instruction to 80% in national minority schools at the secondary school level. Several protest actions were held during 2014 to stop the move. The Minister did not name specific reason to withhold the transition, yet stated that she heard positive opinions about the present system of national minority schools and that other countries are using it as a good example. According to the Minister, the next step will be to prepare more education materials for teaching the state language in minority kindergartens. Regarding the frequent inspections by the Education Quality State Service and the State Language Inspection in schools, the Minister believes that if the schools were given complete freedom, the chaos might prevail. 

Vesti Segodnya reports about international conference "The Rights of the Child. Contemporary Challenges" organised in Riga by the Latvian Human Rights Committee. Participants also highlighted that education in native language of the child ensures the child’s successful learning of the subjects and intellectual development. According to Dr Fernand de Varennes, a number of international documents determine the rights of minorities in education, yet these documents are mostly of advisory nature. The authorities shall evaluate the situation by three parameters: demand for education in minority language, the size of minority population and possibilities of the state to provide these rights. Participants of the conference drew attention to the provision of the right to education in minority languages in Austria (Burgenland) and Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige). 

Dec. 18, 2014

  • Court sentenced a man for incitement to ethnic hatred

Yesterday, the Riga City Court of Kurzeme District sentenced a man to one year of suspended imprisonment for incitement to ethnic hatred. In March 2014 the sentenced man has published statements at calling to organise "Maidan" in Latvia and calling Russian residents to start war against ethnic Latvians in Latvia and later against European Union and made other hateful statements towards ethnic Latvians. Latvijas Avize

Dec. 15, 2014

  • Newspapers report about a congress of a political party National Union
  • Report on Development of Young Guards stresses Young Guards as a tool for consolidation of the society

Newspapers report about a congress of a political party National Union (NU). One of the party’s leaders Raivis Dzintars stated that the aim of the party is to make the state ethnically Latvian and fair. This aim can be achieved only when the NU becomes the most popular party in Latvia and receives at least 30 -35 mandates in the Parliament, said R. Dzintars. He also stressed that the NU supports traditional family values and criticized the fact that coming out with the statement about belonging to non-traditional sexual orientation is considered as bravery, while honouring of Latvian (Waffen SS) legionnaires on 16 March is condemned. Other leader of the party and Speaker of the Saeima Inara Murniece stressed the necessity to strengthen Latvia’s security. These could be achieved by special legal provisions, which, for instance, would allow banning organisations engaged in activities incompatible with the aims of the state’s existence. As measures to counter Russia’s propaganda in Latvia, I. Murniece proposed to forbid the local TV operators to place advertisement in re-broadcasted Russia’s channels and to force the operators to include in the cheapest TV package only local and EU channels, but Russia’s channels in the more expensive package. Member of the party, MP Edvins Snore stated that there is no sense to strengthen Latvian defence if among its residents there is a large community who he alleges would “shoot in the back” of Latvian defenders in case of a conflict. A. Snore believes that all the previous attempts to integrate this community have failed and, therefore, there are only two choices left – whether to give up and to form two-community state or to help the residents disloyal towards the state to be repatriated to their ethnic motherland.  Vesti Segodnya, Latvijas Avize, Diena

The government has approved the Report on Development of Young Guards for 2014-2024. Consolidation of the society is stressed as one of the Young Guards’ main functions. The MP and military expert Karlis Kreslins says that different patriotic activities and discovering history are shaping the state consciousness of the young people.  According to a director of the Recruitment and Young Guards Centre, the organisation is highly popular also in Latgale  - region densely populated by ethnic minorities. Latvijas Avize

Dec. 12, 2014

  • Head of the Saeima’s Education, Science and Culture Committee Janis Vucans: language issues should not be boosted

In an interview with Vesti Segodnya, the head of the Saeima Education, Science and Culture Committee Janis Vucans says that the integration and Latvian language learning are developing by themselves and it is a matter of time when success is achieved. Mr Vucans notes that he sees problems with Latvian language learning by Russian speaking students and also with the growing number of Latvian language school leavers who are less competitive due to poor Russian language skills. At the same time, Mr Vucans believes that there is no need for changes in the education programme as those will occur naturally as people see that multilingualism improves individual welfare. .

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