Latvian human rights ombudsman Juris Jansons came out on Thursday in favour of a proposed tenfold increase in the fine for Latvian citizens who do not use Latvian language when carrying out official duties, his press service said.
The nationalist association All for Latvia - For Fatherland and Freedom recently proposed increasing the fine for residents who do not use the national language in their official capacities from $50 to $500 and introduced a draft with the necessary amendments for consideration to the parliament.
Although 44 percent of Latvia's 2.3 million people are Russian-speaking, Latvian is the only state language in the republic and Russian is considered a foreign language. In early April, more than 6,000 Latvian nationals signed a petition to grant Russian the status of a second state language.
Latvia's opposition Harmony Center, which draws most of its support from the Russian-speaking community and is the second largest party in the parliament, asked the ombudsman to assess the draft law.
The Latvian parliament must approve it in three readings and then the president must sign it before the amendment comes into effect.
RIGA, May 19 (RIA Novosti)