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    OSCE TOO MILD AS LATVIA ABUSES ETHNIC RUSSIAN RIGHTS: RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

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    VIENNA, FEBRUARY 13 (RIA Novosti correspondent Borislav Pechnikov) - The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe demonstrates its unpardonable tolerance on Latvia as that country is abusing the rights of its ethnic Russian population, says Alexander Alexeyev, Russian Ambassador to the OSCE.

    It is universally recognised that Latvia and certain other countries in Europe's heart have bad problems with human rights and the situation of ethnic minorities. The OSCE is blatantly ignoring those problems. Evidently, the Organisation, the way it is now, cannot offer their unbiased treatment and competent settlement, he said to the OSCE Permanent Council.

    The situation undermines the OSCE reputation. The Organisation is receding ever farther backstage in international rights activities, warned the diplomat.

    The Latvian parliament approved, February 5, a bill to amend the Education Law. It envisages 60 per cent of academic hours in Lettish and a mere 40 per cent in Russian for senior students of secondary schools with Russian for tuition language.

    Latvian legislators' strategy is evident: they mean to bring to a sheer absurdity tuition arrangements which have enraged ethnic Russians, as they are, and so provoke public indignation. It will be convenient, after that, to reinstate the previous milder patterns, which the community will no longer find too harsh. All these subterfuges cannot promote an interethnic dialogue, what with crying restrictions of Russian speakers' right to choose their tuition language, warned Mr. Alexeyev.

    Latvian authorities have proclaimed ethnic integration policies. As things really are, they are obstinately working to assimilate non-Letts. Cultural and linguistic absorption that is in store for ethnic minorities in Latvia clashes with European traditions of cultural diversity and mutual enrichment, emphasised the ambassador.

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