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    Russian Foreign Ministry condemns Latvia's language policy

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    Russia's Foreign Ministry has accused Latvia of violating the rights of ethnic minorities by toughening its language policy, the official spokesman said on Saturday.

    MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry has accused Latvia of violating the rights of ethnic minorities by toughening its language policy, the official spokesman said on Saturday.

    Latvian President Valdis Zatlers has recently signed amendments to the Administrative Violations Code, previously approved by parliament, which raised fines for using non-official languages by employers and employees, and expanded the scope of the sanctions.

    "It is obvious that such discriminatory moves violate the rights of ethnic minorities, which are generally acknowledged in present-day Europe, and aim to further displace the Russian language native for one third of the Latvian population from all fields of public and business activity," Andrei Nesterenko said.

    The ministry spokesman said Latvia's decision was in defiance of protests from a number of political parties and public organizations in the country.

    Latvia, where native Russian speakers account for at least 30% of the population, treats Russian as a foreign language. Most of other former Soviet states, while maintaining only one state language, have given Russian varying degrees of recognition.

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