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Ethnic Russians in Latvia collect signatures for citizenship

August 30, 2011, 15:18 UTC+3
Latvia’s population is around 2.3 million people, of them 345,000 are ethnic Russian, the so-called resident aliens, who have no citizenship
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RIGA, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — Ethnic Russians, who remained non-citizens in the Baltic state of Latvia, have begun to collect notarized signatures for getting citizenship and holding a nationwide referendum on the issue in the future.

The campaign was initiated by the left-wing political party For Human Rights in United Latvia that has been protecting interests of the Russian-speaking minority in the republic for many years. It failed to get parliamentary seats at the 2010 elections.

The party’s press service told Itar-Tass that lawyers prepared the list of amendments to the law on citizenship that are necessary for organizing a referendum.

The party also concluded a treaty with the Latvian Sworn Attorneys Collegium that allows to collect signatures. The treaty entered into force on Tuesday, thus launching the campaign.

A Lithuanian citizen can put his/her signature under the draft law in any attorney office showing his/her passport and paying 2 lats (around $4).

“We call on all our supporters and all citizens of Latvia to take part in the collection of signatures for holding a referendum, stopping ethnic discrimination and restoring justice in relation to all Latvians. We call for a really universal right to vote and for real unity of our country’s people,” the party said.

Latvia’s population is around 2.3 million people, of them 345,000 are ethnic Russian, the so-called resident aliens, who have no citizenship.

Since Latvia separated from the Soviet Union in 1991, they were deprived of most political rights, including the right to vote at the municipal and parliamentary elections as well as elections to the European Parliament.

Latvia’s parliament has repeatedly rejected any attempts of the Russian-speaking opposition to change the situation.

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