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Latvia Continues Discrimination of Russians Despite ‘Normalization’ Claims

© Sputnik / Igor Zarembo / Go to the photo bankCities of the world. Riga
Cities of the world. Riga - Sputnik International
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NATO member Latvia is interested in the normalization of relations with Russia, the country’s president Raimonds Vējonis said recently. However, despite his announcement the discrimination of ethnic Russians residing in his country still continues.

Raimonds Vējonis argued that the Russian market is very important for Latvian entrepreneurs and that the Western sanctions against Moscow pose a major challenge to Latvia’s economy.

He also stated that his country is interested in the normalization of relations with its neighbor, but forgot to mention that the situation regarding the Russian minorities residing there is far from being normal.

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As reported by the Swiss newspaper NZZ, ethnic Russians which constitute one third of Latvia’s population are “poorly integrated" and exposed to constant discrimination.

There are about 270,000 of the so called "non-citizens" in Latvia, which makes up approximately 14 percent of all residents of the Baltic state. Russians make up 65.6% of all non-citizens. These are the people who “moved to Latvia during the Soviet occupation between 1940 and 1991 or were resettled there by the Soviet authorities,” the article said.

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After gaining its independence, citizenship was granted only to those citizens and their descendants who lived in Latvia before 1940. About 700,000 or 30 percent of the population were denied the citizenship.

The system of “non-citizens” is even more discriminative regarding the fact that the children of “non-citizens” born in Latvia do not automatically receive citizenship as other Latvian children. Parents must apply for it explicitly, but often do not take this step by reason of a “personal pride”.

Non-citizens have neither Latvian nor any other nationality. They can’t vote or be elected or exercise certain official posts such as policeman, prosecutors or notaries, the newspaper wrote.

The ongoing discrimination of ethnic Russians does not seem to coincide with the statements of Latvian authorities regarding their desire to normalize relations between the two countries. The fact that Latvia is welcoming deployment of US heavy military equipment on its territory next year also proves that Latvian politicians are not ready to suit their actions to the words.

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