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What can your story be in the United States?

02/10/2012

On democracy.

Population-of-Latvia

I have not been writing anything in this blog out of a deep spite for my own vanity in the face of the ever expanding presence of internet. I do not wish to expose much of my persona in opinionated texts, so I would rather like to reserve my rambling for momentous occasions. One such occasion is coming up in the near future – the referendum on February 18th in Latvia, which will decide whether Russian will become a second state language. A number of events and confrontations took place last year that escalated the political situation and led to this referendum. Some 200 000 people signed under the petition to grant an official status to the language that is being spoken by the 40% of the population of the country. That petition was turned down by the parliament, thus initiating the referendum.

That is just a part of the story. Some fun facts to consider: there are stateless people in Latvia, officially dubbed “aliens” (referred to in common speach as “NEGR” from Russian “NE – GRazdanin” - “non-citizen”) that amounts to some 20% of the population of the country, even though the majority of them were born and lived in Latvia for multiple generations. They have no voting right, but are still paying taxes. Russian is not recognized as a language of an ethnical minority, and has no status. There is a “language police” that oversees proper use of Latvian language and imposes sanctions and penalties on people who use Russian at a work place or during public events (latest case: a Santa Clause was ticketed for speaking Russian to children in a Russian kindergarden). Latvian nationalists tried to initiate closure of all schools that have Russian as their primary language. I understand that history is a complex matter, but I don't understand how I am personally responsible for the hatred that is being directed towards me and my kinsmen.

I have lived in Latvia all my life and have never participated in anything political, but seeing how things have been going for the last two decades I can only say that I symphasize with the referendum, and wish I could participate. Even if we don't win, we will show that we are not amused anymore by the going on in Latvia, that has been our home for a very long time. What I don't understand is why all of our western allies tolerate this kind of a situation – human rights and basic principles of democracy are being violated.

Being the only Latvian Russian in BAFF, I express my concern.

Comments

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First of all, I would like to ask the blog administration to remove this blog post, as it does not belong here. This blog should be a place for BAFF members to share their adventures, and not for expressing their opinionated texts on sensitive political matters in Latvia or other countries.

Even though I understand that its nor the right place, nor the right time to comment on such one-sided, fact-less texts, I would like to express how much I disagree with the poorly integrated non-Latvian Russian Dima. I hope that your language problem will not be an obstacle to vote in the referendum - there might be nobody to translate the voting slip for you in a foreign voting station.

That you for a kind and considerate comment. I feel a warm feeling of recognition - you adress me by the name reserved for close friends and relatives, I am also quite happy that you recognize the fact that I am "poorly integrated", - I would say "not integrated at all". As for my nationality - I am a Latvian Russo-Tatar.

As for fact-less - I don't know what facts to give to prove that minorities in Latvia have been discriminated against for the past 20 years and what you see now is just a backlash of disillusioned people, who see no other way out of the situation, no other way of attracting attention to their problems. Maybe you can give me facts to prove that Russians do indeed feel welcome and at home in Latvia?

Non-citizens amount to some 20% of the population of the country that have born and lived in Latvia for multiple generations – that’s a fact, thank you. But only one side of it! Every non-citizen with permanent residency in Latvia, has the right to become a citizen through one of the simples procedures in Europe – just by learning the Latvian language, anthem and few historical facts. Of course, many of them still have a citizenship of another country, which forbids them to receive Latvian one before they give up the foreign one. Their own stubborn stand point problem! As for the children of non-citizens – they have the possibility to become citizen upon the request of both parents at the event of birth registration.

Russian language is not part of an ethnical minority group. The language belongs to a nation of tens of millions of people. Latvian nation and culture meanwhile is represented by merely 2 million people. The question at hand is how to protect it and make it prosper, without the pressure from locally represented large cultures.

Taxes are paid for public service all non-citizens are entitled to receive – healthcare, educational system, roads and even unemployment benefits.

The facts are, that being the largest representation in foreign nation in Latvia, Russians threaten the preservation and development of nation, Latvian state and culture just by such notions as the referendum on the 18th of February. All Russians have the freedom to talk, listen to radio, watch TV in their language. Study in their language – both high school and university. Event vote and be represented in the parliament – I don’t see where the discrimination comes in? Non-citizens?! - their own fault!

So, your point is?

In order not to be discriminated, the minorities mentioned by Dmitry can go ahead and become citizens of Latvia. The thing is that they do not want that. They are not loyal to Latvia and the values common to all citizens of Latvia - Latvian language, culture and historical perception. If the minorities cared about Latvia and were willing to back the fundamental values of this country, we would not have this discussion right now.

Exactly!

“Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules best writing service You can call this class warfare all you want,” Obama said, referring to Republican criticism of his proposals. “But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”

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