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    LATVIAN RADICALS TO CONVICT SUPPORTERS OF RUSSIAN SCHOOLS

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    RIGA, May 21, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Latvian Parliament adopted amendments to the Latvian Criminal Code jointly introduced by deputies of the "Motherland and Freedom" party and "For the Latvia's National Independence" movement.

    The amendments will consider unsanctioned rallies of the supporters for Russian schools in Latvia a "criminal offense against the state" and convict their organizers to 3 or 5 years of prison or make them pay a fine worth of up to $5.000.

    Latvian radicals believe it is unacceptable that unsanctioned public rallies and demonstration of students, their parents and teachers of Russian schools protecting the right to be taught in their native tongue are an administrative offence.

    According to the amendments to the Criminal Code, not only such rallies but "calls for them" are considered a criminal offence and they entail certain punishment. In so doing, those who do not support the school reform will go to prison, Latvian radical newspaper "Diena" reports.

    In their parliament appeal to other rightist parties the "Motherland and Freedom" party and "For the Latvia's National Independence" movement call for support of the amendments "to create a legal basis for arresting organizers of the protest rallies".

    The leftist opposition sees the initiative by the radicals as an attempt to restore the pro-fascist regime of president Ulmanis in the pre-war Latvia after a coup d'etat in 1934.

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