Skip to comments.Latvians reject Russian as official language
Posted on 02/18/2012 9:06:45 PM PST by DeaconBenjamin
Latvian voters resoundingly rejected a proposal to give official status to Russian, the mother tongue of their former Soviet occupiers.
For ethnic Latvians the referendum attempted to encroach on Latvia's independence, restored two decades ago after half a century of occupation by the Soviet Union.
Many Latvians mistrust Russia and worry that Moscow attempts to wield influence in Latvia through the ethnic Russian minority.
With more than 93% of ballots counted, 75% of voters said they were against Russian as a national language, according to the national election commission.
"Society is divided into two classes one half has full rights and the other half's rights are violated," said Aleksejs Yevdokimovs, 36. "The Latvian half always employs a presumption of guilt toward the Russian half, so that we have to prove things that shouldn't need to be proven."
More than 70% of registered voters cast ballots, considerably more than in previous elections and referendums. Long lines were seen at many precincts both in Latvia and abroad, with voters in London reportedly braving a three-hour wait.
Though the Russians who spearheaded the referendum admitted they had no chance at winning, they at least hoped the approximate 25% support would force Latvia's centre-right government to begin a dialogue with national minorities.
Hundreds of thousands of Russians, Belarussians and Ukrainians moved to Latvia and the neighboring Baltic republics during the population transfers of the Soviet regime. Many of them never learned Latvian and were denied citizenship when Latvia regained independence, meaning they do not have the right to vote or work in government.
According to the current law anyone who moved to Latvia during the Soviet occupation, or was born to parents who moved there, is considered a non-citizen and must pass the Latvian language exam in order to be naturalised.
(Excerpt) Read more at guardian.co.uk ...
Russian, English, German or French I can understand, Latvian I can’t. Some kid’s on trial for murdering his parents in their sleep for forcing him to learn latvian and I’m on the jury, the kid walks.
They deserve their own culture, language and borders as do we.
They deserve their own culture, language and borders as do we.
Didn’t Andy Kaufman play a character on ‘TAXI’ that was from Latvia?
Um...the country's name is Latvia. why shouldn't people residing there speak Latvian?
This must be a slow news day. I was there in 1998, and it was the same. In fact, they refused to speak Russian, preferring German or English if you didn't speak their language.
They should speak Swedish... and they should wear their underwear on the outside.
good for them!
Demanding Russian as a second national language is too much for local non-Latvian minorities in my opinion, but still it is highly racist to demand language exam for non-Latvian people in order to obtain citizenship.
Note, we aren’t talking about newcomers who are seeking to naturalize.
And it is too simple to link Russian minorities to a ‘40s Soviet occupation.
A significant Russian minority resided there for a thousand years, Latvia was a part of Russia until for centuries right until a communist revolution.
For that same reason you have to prohibit English in California, for a reason it was Spanish a few centuries ago and predominately Hispanic again for now.
The funds raised in these FReepathons go to pay our current quarter expenses. But we're also going to try to replace some of our older servers and failing equipment this year so we're going to add a little extra to our FReepathon goals. John is estimating ten to fifteen thousand to do this and I'd like to get it all in place and working before the election cycle is fully heated up, so we'll try to bring in a little extra now, if we can, and the rest next quarter.
After watching how Georgia got packed with Russians and then had hunks carved out of it, Latvia is darn right to be leery. There are some pockets of Russian speakers still there, and a casual traveler might find it easier to tackle Russian than Latvian. But it would make more sense in world politics for Latvia to adopt English rather than Russian if they want a second language.
I was deployed to Uzbekistan, another forcibly annexed Soviet “republic” where I learned that after the USSR collapsed in 1991 the Russian minority in UZ went from thirty to seven percent as they were no longer the ruling class. Served them right. So, did latter-day Russians living in the Baltic states benefit from the effects of the 1940 Stalinist Soviet invasion? D-mn right they did. Screw ‘em.
Latvia for Latvians. So what’s the problem?
Sounds like Poland, if you try to speak Russian in Warsaw, you’ll probably get your a$$ kicked.
No, not “vost” ...
Dievs sveti Latviju!!
God bless Latvia?
>>>>>>>>>>After watching how Georgia got packed with Russians and then had hunks carved out of it, Latvia is darn right to be leery. There are some pockets of Russian speakers still there, and a casual traveler might find it easier to tackle Russian than Latvian. But it would make more sense in world politics for Latvia to adopt English rather than Russian if they want a second language.>>>>>>>>>>>
Well, you have some points, but misenterpreting most facts.
For example, Georgia wasn’t packed with Russians. It has Abkhazian and Osetian minorities which has absolutely no ethnic and cultural ties with both Russia and Georgia.
For some reason ethnic Georgian Soviet leader Stalin included both Abkhazia and Osetia into a Georgian Soviet Republic.
It wasn’t a problem until late 80s, when nations started to recognize their identity within Soviet Union.
Georgian government started openly racist policy on minorities at the time as the way to distract public from economy issues. ‘Georgia for Georgians’ was one of official slogans of Geogrian President Gamsahurdia at the time. He has denied citizenship to Abkhazians and Osetians as a kind of ‘undermenshens’ and declared war on them which Georgia lost in earlier 90s.
Osetians came to Russia for citizenship for a good reason. They had no chance to be recognized as a nation, they didn’t want Georgia which ethnically cleansed them, and they needed passports to travel etc.
Russia had it’s own goals utilizing a crisis made by Georgians.
It had it’s climax at august 2008 as we all know.
For that same reason it is short sighted on Latvian side to alienate minorities denieing them basic civil rights, of cource I’m not about making a Russian as second official which is too much.
Anyway, present policy is just a way to make minoroties a good target for Russian propaganda and agents of Russian influence.
Russian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian (Belarussian), Polish, German and Jewish minorities were living there for centuries using Russian as the way to communicate to each other long before they ever know ‘Latvia’. Latvia itself has first emerged after Bolshevic revolution. It was a part of Russia since 18th century and Sweden before 18th century.
Exactly. Baltic states have something for their minorities to offer instead of poking them into the eye. So does the minorities for their nation.
Anything that is not English is just gibberish. Take French for example, they insist on having a different word for everything.
English is the chosen language at board meetings at Germany's BMW Corporation.
“georgie got packed with Russians and then had hunks carved out of it” — can you give examples please? If you are talking of Ossetia, then Ossetians are not Georgians or Russians but derived from the ancient Alans.
27% of Latvian population are Russians and they are forced to speak only in Latvian.
OK OK, those weren’t Russians living in Ossetia. My bad (memory). They had Russian passports, is what I think I had actually heard.
The people of Latvia are called Letts. So they just want to be Lett alone (duck’n & runn’n).
Well that’s what you get when your evil empire hits ebb tide. There’s no law in Latvia that says they can’t yack away in Russian to their heart’s content. But if they want to deal with the gummit, they have to do so in Latvian. Sounds fair enough. Though Latvian has weird words. I stayed in Latvia for a few days a couple decades ago. The place where I roomed, an unused college dorm, was so dusty I had to mop every day. They called a mop something like a “sluit.” They definitely didn’t like me to use the Russian word for mop.
There IS a law in Latvia denieing citizenship to people who are living there for generations but haven’t learnt official language.
I understand Latvians who are a tiny nation and has right to keep identity but there are might be million acceptable ways to make minorities interested to be a part of monoculture if they want it.
I’m actually strictly against multy-culty but it is not the case. Russian-speakers aren’t illegal aliens there. It is a nationalist lies to link them with Stalinist takeover, non-Latvian population was in place for centuries.
Maybe the US could use a law like that with English!
I mean if someone is so disabled as to be unable to learn even basic English or converse at all, you could make an exception, obviously. I don’t care (in the case of the US) if they yack in Spanish at home and among friends all day long, but please don’t be demanding that businesses and government speak Spanish for you.
Once again i repeat latvia is in it’s right to decline Russian as official. I repeat, Latvia is not in it’s right to link citizenship with Latvian language.
US is a bad exapmle as historically English speaking nation. It is not the case for Latvia. Russian-speakers aren’t newcomers unlike Mexicans in US. They were living there for centuries using their language.
How did Latvia get these Rooskies in the first place?
I still say they are right to at least expect out of Russian speakers the ability to speak good enough Latvian that they could get by as well as travelers with phrasebooks. Even if they have to use the stinkin’ phrasebooks.
As I written before, Latvia hasn’t exist as a nation until 1918. It was Sweden before 1700’s and Russia after. And it was Russia (or Soviet Union) again 1940-1991.
‘Russians’ were there for that same reason Americans are in
Honolulu or San-Diego:)
Once again, latvians has their right to demand minorities to learn their language but they have to find better ways without forcing their NATIVE population of another cultural roots into it. You are in your right to demand newcomers seeking to naturalize to accept your language. You can’t do the same to people who are part of your nation.
It is called ethnic cleansing and not acceptable in modern society.
I haven’t heard if Canada counts French-speakers as ‘non-citizens’ until they passed TOEFL test.
For that reason you’ll never see French officials handing French passports to Quebek residents and French carriers launching sorties into Canada.
That doesn't work all the time as there are many words that sound the same but mean something else.
however, at the Foreigner's office the easterners are treated much worse than any other foreigners...
Latvians naturally fear that their language, culture, nation will be swamped if they adopt the language of their big brother to the east.
that being said, the people of Russian ethnicity there are to be pitied -- but I have no good solution in my head for this
then it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita (Republic) until Potop (the Swedish deluge when the Swedish king destroyed the Republic).
Then it was Swedish from the 1600s until the 1720s when it became Russian
At this time there was an ethnic mix with Baltic Germans on top and then Rusyns (Ruthenians), Poles, Jews etc.