Russian language referendum sends strong signal to Latvia
Despite the “no” vote in a Russian language referendum in Latvia, its results should be regarded as positive, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma International Committee Konstantin Kosachyov told reporters on Sunday.
The fact that a large number of voters, 25%, want Russian to become a second state language shows that the issue needs to be addressed, for example, by raising the status of Russian in districts densely populated by Russian-speakers, he said.
It should also be taken into account that 300,000 residents, who had denied Latvian citizenship after the split of the former Soviet Union, were barred from voting in the referendum.
25% of Latvians say 'yes' to Russian as official language
Over 25% of Latvian voters have said ‘yes’ to Russian as official language, while 75% of other respondents have rejected the proposal.
The results were quite predictable since hundreds of thousands of Russians residing in Latvia were deprived of the Latvian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet Union and have no right to vote.
The organizers of the referendum hope that Russian will obtain at least the regional language status.
The so-called regional languages in Latvia are protected by the EU Charter, and are used in courts and mass media.
Latvians says no to Russian
Most of Latvia's citizens have voted against the recognition of Russian as a second state language.
According to the preliminary data released by the Central Election Commission, after the processing of ballots from 653 polling stations out of 1035, nearly 78 percent of people eligible to vote, do not agree with the introduction of amendments to the constitution of the country making Russian an official state language.
Almost 22% of the voters were in favor of the resolution.
More than a million people have taken part in the referendum.
To give the Russian language official status, the support of at least half of the citizens of Latvia was needed.
40 percent of the population of Latvia is Russian-speaking with 320,000 of them treated as internal "aliens" who can not participate in referendums or elections and who do not have citizenship.
(IF, Vesti.ru, TASS)