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.