The Parliament of Latvia will debate on Thursday on a draft law to grant the Russian language the status of the second state language, the parliament’s press service said.
The bill, that envisages amendments to the Constitution by introducing a second state language in the country, was passed to the parliament on Tuesday by President Andris Berzins.
The share of Russian-speaking residents in Latvia's 2.3 million population is 44%. Latvian has the status of the state language in the republic, whereas Russian is considered a foreign language.
Latvia’s Central Election Commission was gathering signatures between November 1 and 30 under a petition to hold a nationwide referendum on granting Russian the status of the second state language.
With the necessary amount of 154,379 votes to hold the referendum, 187,378 Latvian citizens, who have the right to vote, signed the petition.
The Latvian parliament created the category of "non-citizen" in 1991 and it largely applies to Russians who moved to then socialist republic during the Soviet era. Non-citizens are not considered stateless persons under Latvian law but lack full rights, with the main restriction depriving "non-citizens" of the right to vote.