Politics is Above Common Sense in Latvia

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The painful issue of using the Russian language in Latvia appears on the agenda once again. Ethnic Russians “knock at the doors” of international organizations trying to defend their rights to speak and get an education in their native language. Their hope for understanding in Latvia is melting every day.

It has become known that the Russian Community in Latvia sent a letter to the Council of Europe about the violation of human rights. The message addressed to Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland also calls for a request from the Venice Commission to amend the two Latvian language laws which were adopted by the Saeima in spring.

The letter informs the Secretary-General of Europe that “the laws on education that directly affect the rights of the national minorities of Latvia have been adopted without consulting the minorities and without considering their opinions. By the language reform, the authorities intend to reduce to 20% the proportions of teaching in the languages of national minorities.

The letter claims that a third of the Latvian population is Russian native speakers and Russian is studied in the country for more than one century.”

Latvian students show one more example of fighting for their rights. The Latvian Constitutional Court will consider a lawsuit on the compliance of new language law and the basic state law. It relates to a ban on teaching in Russian at private universities. The case should be processed by April 12, 2019.

The authors of the lawsuit, David, Dana, and Tengiz Djibouti, draw attention to the fact that the Latvian Constitution promises everyone the right to education. It also says that national minorities have the right to their own language, ethnic, and cultural identity.

Teaching at private universities is conducted in Russian. In the students’ opinion, the elimination of Russian-language education contradicts their constitutional rights to preserve their native language.

According to the students, the changes were adopted “hastily without the necessary discussion.”

It was reported earlier that next year Russian-language programs in private universities would be closed. However, those who now studies will be allowed to get diplomas. About a third of students in private universities study in Russian.

Such changes will lead to the fact that the number of foreign students in Latvia will immediately decrease, and, consequently, budget revenues will also fall. this decision is ill-conceived and made to achieve political goals on the eve of the elections.

According to experts, the issue of neglecting the basic human rights in Latvia is a purely political one. If the native language was not Russian, nobody would threaten it. Thus if imagine that one-third of the Latvian population speaks English or German, Latvian authorities would not even think about changing the educational system.

The matter is the POLITICS nowadays is above all: above common sense, above historical memory, above real needs of the population.

The adopted laws are politically motivated. Reducing the rights of the bigger part of its own population Latvia spoils its own image in the international arena. Violation of constitutionally guaranteed human rights reduces trust in Latvia as to the democratic state.

The more so, Latvia can face the situation when Russia has to defend the so-called compatriots. Thus, Crimea’s scenario can repeat. Do Latvian authorities want it?


Adomas Abromaitis

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