CONVENTION ON PROTECTION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES IN LATVIA NOT TO CONCERN RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS

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MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - The convention on the protection of ethnic minorities ratified by Latvia will not concern the Russian-speaking population, chairman of the State Duma international affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev said on Friday.

By experts' estimates, there are 450,000 Russian-speaking people deprived of the status of citizens by Latvian legislation.

"Latvia is among a small number of countries which did not ratify the convention on the protection of ethnic minorities until recently and the only European country where the violation of ethnic minorities' rights is common practice," Kosachev stressed.

He added Latvia's ratification of the convention had been a reaction to the European community's keen criticism rather than an act of free will.

Kosachev also said that while ratifying the document, Latvian MPs managed to come off clear with a number of reservations that in fact made the convention unnecessary.

The head of the committee specified that the convention did not apply to non-citizens, while it was meant to protect their rights, in the first place.

Secondly, ethic minorities will still be deprived of the right to use their languages in official correspondence with the authorities and in topographic names (streets, settlements etc.).

Kosachev expressed his hope that the reservations made by the Latvian parliament "will be in the focus of PACE's discussion, particularly on resuming PACE's monitoring of Latvia".

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