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    MOSCOW, February 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Latvian authorities conduct a targeted policy on the assimilation of ethnic minorities in the country. This was disclosed by Russian representative Aleksander Alekseyev at the OSCE permanent council session, devoted to the Latvian issue.

    "The authorities purposefully conduct a policy, which is not aimed at the stated by them integration, instead it is aimed at the assimilation, which in fact is a linguistic and cultural absorption, having nothing common with European traditions of diversity and mutual cultural enrichment," Alekseyev said.

    According to Alekseyev, "the Latvian authorities tactics is to first adopt absurd amendments, which had already been opposed by the Russian speaking community, to raise resentment sentiments and then to return to the original, the 'soft variant'," the Russian Foreign Ministry Department of Information and Press disclosed to a RIA Novosti correspondent.

    "This tactics is easily explainable - to demonstrate the so-called concessions of radical-nationalists to public opinion, including the world society's opinion. Unfortunately, such maneuvers change little in establishing of international dialogue, since it cardinally restricts the Russian speaking population's right to choose language of education," Alekseyev said.

    He reminded that the provision 35 of the Copenhagen Document of the OSCE Human Dimension Conference stipulates on the active participation of ethnic minorities in the governmental affairs, connected with protection of ethnic minorities and their originality. Many other documents state the same ideas.

    "None of this is being observed at present. On the contrary, the facts speak for the complete obliteration by the Latvian authorities of the Russian-speaking community's anxiety concerning the future decrease of the education quality of the Russian-speaking graduates. All this will consequently lead to the decrease of competitiveness level of the Russian-speaking youth, inevitable upsurge of new social and material differences and new sources for the social confrontation," Alekseyev stressed.

    "Latvia is the state, which had openly and distinctly expressed its democratic choice of development and its devotion to European and world democratic values. Therefore, we have the right to expect Latvia following the best European examples, concerning the observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms," Alekseyev noted.

    According to him, "one of the best examples of the tolerance and respect of ethnic minorities are the history, culture and language lessons for the ethnic minorities in public schools in a number of European countries. This kind of example speaks for the real integration with two-sided movement." "The OSCE refusal, unlike any other international organizations, to adequately react on the generally accepted serious problems, connected with human rights and situation of ethnic minorities in Europe, obviously demonstrates the incapability of the organization to work impartially and effectively in this direction. All this devaluates the organization's authority and means that the OSCE will be moving further to the outskirts of the activities concerning the human rights protection," Alekseyev noted.

    (Recently the Latvian authorities adopted amendments to the Law on Education, which sternly limit a number of classes taught in the languages of ethnic minorities, including the Russian language. Meanwhile, the so-called Russian-speaking community makes up to 40% of the country's population.

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