PICKET OF PROTEST AGAINST AUTHORITIES' EDUCATION POLICY BEGINS IN LATVIA

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RIGA, June 8 (RIA Novosti's Anatoly Baranovsky) - On Tuesday a five-day picket of protest against the authorities' policy of education for the ethnic minorities began in Latvia.

In the morning, several dozen schoolchildren and their parents began the picket in the Esplanada Park outside the government building. During five days and nights defenders of Russian schools will explain to people in Riga the gist of the discriminatory school reform in Latvia. At day-time, they will be mostly schoolchildren and at night, as law requires, they will activists reaching 18 years of age, parents and teachers.

The action, held at the initiative of activists from the Russian school defense headquarters, is part of the campaign planned to last during the summer. Activists say that, if the authorities do not change their position on education, massive and radical actions of protest will be held in September: parents are preparing to stage a hunger strike and schoolchildren the action "empty schools" - a general strike of students at Russian schools.

Opponents of Russian schools turning to Lettish as the tuition language are against the Seim (Latvian parliament) decision to begin this year teaching in Lettish at least 60 percent of the academic program for the senior classes of secondary schools for ethnic minorities.

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