Examining The Place Of The Russian Minority

2280 WordsOct 30, 201410 Pages
Examining the Place of the Russian Minority in Latvia: Aliens, non-citizens or stateless persons? Introduction The region of Latvia has a long history of occupation by foreign powers and so its ethnicity is quite varied. The Latvian Republic is one of the Baltic States located on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Along with its neighbours Lithuania and Estonia, Latvia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is when Latvia gained its status as an independent state that the most crucial period for the Russian-speaking residents began, as at that time the country’s main issue was the status of its 1.1 million Russian-speaking residents. Under Latvia’s 2000 census (Heleniak, 2006), 30 per cent of the country’s 2.4 million population…show more content…
The year independence was restored was defining for many thousands of Russians permanently living in Latvia. On 3rd March 1991 a nonbinding advisory referendum took place with the result that 73% of all Latvian residents supported the notion for independent Latvia (Troitsky, 2011). The Popular Front of Latvia, the national movement which was promoting the idea of segregation, advocated that all permanent residents will be entitled to and qualified for Latvian citizenship (Melvin, 1995, p. 34). “All those who want to be citizens of Latvia can be” (Lieven, 1997, p. 304) stated Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council. However, the universal citizenship for all permanent residents was not adopted. Latvia restored the rights and status only for those persons who were identified as citizens under the 1919 Law together with their descendants (Aleinikoff & Klusmeyer, 2001, p. 31). Thereby, for the majority of ethnic non-Latvians citizenship was not granted, even when the biggest portion of them were born in Latvia. This was seen as an attempt to suppress “national extinction” (Mole, 2012, p. 89-90) caused by, according to the radicals in Latvia, the Russian people. Those people became non-citizens not holding citizenship to any other country and without the right to vote. In Latvia as well as in Estonia the Russian population is seen as “a reminder of their unhappy past” (Best, 2013, p. 34), thus the Russian people are not welcomed
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