21:31 GMT13 May 2021
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    VIENNA (Sputnik) - Russian Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich on Tuesday called on the organization to react to the detention of human rights activist Alexander Gaponenko in Latvia.

    Gaponenko, who advocates the preservation of Russian-language secondary school education in Latvia, was detained in the country on Friday. According to the Latvian law enforcement agencies, Gaponenko's detention was conducted as part of a criminal case opened against him on April 4 in connection to the activities against state independence.

    "We urge "@osce_odihr [OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights], @OSCE_RFoM [Office of the OSCE Representative on Media Freedom] and @oscehcnm [Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities] to react to the police violence against a defender of the Russian Schools of #Latvia Alexander #Gaponenko and his detention," Lukashevich was quoted as saying in a tweet of the Russian Mission to the OSCE.

    Lukashevich has also firmly condemned Gaponenko's taking into custody, expressing his hope that Riga would not unleash a "witch hunt" against those opposing its policy toward national minorities.

    In January, Latvia adopted amendments to its education law stipulating a gradual transition to teaching in Latvian for ethnic minority schools. The transition will take place over three years starting on September 1, 2019.

    The only state language in Latvia is Latvian, while all other languages, including Russian, have the status of foreign languages. Russian-speaking residents have repeatedly protested against the government’s plan to force the schools of ethnic minorities to switch to the Latvian language.


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