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Latvian Constitutional Court refuses to cancel February 18 referendum on Russian language status

January 20, 2012, 21:23 UTC+3

Latvian deputies questioned the referendum at the Constitutional Court. The appeal was submitted by 30 deputies

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RIGA, January 20 (Itar-Tass) —— The Latvian Constitutional Court refused on Friday to cancel the February 18 referendum on the second state language status of Russian in the republic. The court’s decision will help solve the question in a legal and correct way, President Andris Berzins said.

“The court ruling will prevent any further speculations on this subject. The ruling will prevent political provocateurs from suggesting new arguments towards a split of the Latvian society. It is a historic event in the Latvian constitutional law, since the question of invariability of national fundamentals is included in the judicial practice of the Constitutional Court,” he said.

Referendum co-initiator Vladimirs Lindermans said that the Constitutional Court had made a reasonable decision. “I am glad; I think the court has made a lawful decision and estimated the situation correctly. The Constitutional Court verifies the compliance of laws with other bills and the constitution. The provocation aimed to engage the Constitutional Court in the lawmaking process, which is against the law. I would not even mention the political consequences the cancelled referendum might have had,” he told the local radio Baltcom.

Latvian deputies questioned the referendum at the Constitutional Court. The appeal was submitted by 30 deputies. They said the court must pronounce the referendum unconstitutional. If the court had cancelled the referendum, the Central Elections Commission would have had to comply with its decision.

The Unity bloc and All For Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK appealed to all citizens of Latvia for taking part in the referendum and voting against Russian as the second official language. “We will appeal to citizens of Latvia – ethnic Latvians and representatives of national minorities – to take part in this referendum and to vote against Russian as a state language in order to confirm their belonging to the Latvian state and to show that the issue is not subject to debate either now or in the future,” the Unity leader said.

The Latvian Central Elections Commission decided on January 3 that a nationwide referendum would take place on February 18. The referendum will cost 1.7 million lats (approximately $3.4 million).

The campaign aimed to make Russian the second official language in Latvia was started on March 7, 2011. Berzins submitted the amendments to the parliament, but it turned them down by the majority of votes.. More than 770,000 citizens must support the amendments for their approval by the referendum.


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