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    ADVOCATES OF RUSSIAN IN RUSSIANS SCHOOLS IN LATVIA TO BE PUNISHED

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    RIGA, January 26, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Latvian authorities are preparing to punish those who took part in the protest actions last week in Riga and Daugavpils against the attempts to abolish the secondary education in the Russian language.

    The police demanded that the principals of the Russian schools in Riga should give it the information what pupils were absent last Thursday and Friday when the building of the Saeima (parliament) and the Ministry of Education were picketed by several thousand senior pupils of the Russian schools.

    The observers believe that the lists of those who were not present at the lessons those days are being drawn up to start repression. Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies Ilze Brands-Kehre regards such lists as "interference into the private life of children" and as "a gross violation of the Latvian Constitution." "The behavior of the police is threatening," she says in the interview published on Monday in the Riga Chas paper.

    The headquarters for the protection of Russian schools stated today that the government's threats addressed to school principals, teachers and pupils are hopeless. Its statement says that "at the first attempt of repression the defenders of the Russian schools will immediately reply with mass protest actions after which the government will lose its face once and for all both inside and outside the country."

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