RIGA, January 20 (Itar-Tass) —— The Constitutional Court of Latvia will discuss on Friday an appeal of a group of deputies to the Saeima (parliament), who ask to recognize the national referendum on the granting to Russian of the status of the second official language, which is scheduled for February 18, as unconstitutional, and to postpone it.
The Latvian MPs contested in the Constitutional Court the holding of the referendum on the Russian language as the second official language of the country. The appeal was signed by 30 MPs: 15 from the Unity association led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, 14 from the nationalistic association “All for Latvia – Fatherland and Freedom/ Movement for National Independence of Latvia,” and one from the opposition Greens and Farmers Alliance. They want the coming referendum to be described as unconstitutional and urge the Constitutional Court to postpone the nationwide voting. If the Court passes judgment in support for the MPs, the Central Electoral commission will have to fulfill it.
The action entitled “For the native language”, whose purpose is to secure for the Russian language the status of the second official language in Latvia, was started on March 7. Its organizers, the Native Language Society, had to collect the signatures of 10 per cent of Latvia’s electors (154,379 people). A total of 187,378 people supported the idea of making Russian the second official language, which makes 12 per cent of the Latvian nationals, who have the right of vote.
Previously the Latvian Saeima refused to grant an official status to Russian by the majority of votes. Irrespective of the parliamentary resolution, however, the problem should be put to the referendum due to be held on February 18, because amendments to the Constitution are involved. Russian may become the second official language, if the idea gets the support of at least half of the electors, or over 770,000 people.
Latvian President Andris Berzins said on Thursday that the referendum should be held. He does not support the idea on granting an official status to Russia, however, and is willing to resign, if this takes place.
Vladimir Linderman, one of the initiators of the nationwide voting, said that if the referendum was cancelled, this would trigger a wave of massive protest actions. “We shall not allow some 200,000 signatures of Latvian nationals to be thrown into a garbage basket. If the Constitutional Court yields to a political pressure of the MPs, we shall have to take to the streets. Of course, we shall act in accordance with the legislation,” he said.