23:25 GMT +323 October 2019
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    Nils Usakovs, Mayor of Riga, Latvia's capital.

    Riga Mayor's Appeal Against Fine for Using Russian on Facebook Rejected by Court

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    A Latvian court has rejected an appeal by Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs against a fine over his use of Russian language on his Facebook page.

    RIGA (Sputnik) — Usakovs was fined 140 euros ($150) last year by the Latvian State Language Center (Valsts valodas centrs in Latvian) for using languages other than Latvian, including Russian and English, while communicating over social networks.

    "The court's decision is not appealable," the court's press service said.

    The court thus upheld an earlier Riga court ruling which supported the language center decision. The earlier ruling said that public servants can only use the country's sole official language to communicate with the population, including over the internet.

    Latvia's state language law obliges all officials to only use Latvian when providing any information to members of the public, with the use of foreign language reserved for exceptional cases. Usakovs' case was the first to take the law into the realm of social networks. After an initial warning from the language center in 2016, the Latvian capital's mayor said that Latvian legislation does not regulate the communications of governmental and non-governmental organizations on foreign social networks, calling on the Latvian Justice Ministry to investigate the "unprofessional" activities of the state language center.

    Russians in Latvia make up 26 percent of the country's population, according to national statistics. Some 40 percent of those living in Latvia speak Russian. Latvia's only official language is Latvian.

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    fine, Russian language, Facebook, Nils Usakovs, Riga, Latvia
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