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RIGA, February 19 (Itar-Tass) —— There are neither winners nor losers in the Saturday referendum on Russian as a second state language in Latvia, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Sunday.
“I am sure that all of us want to live in a democratic and united Latvia. The ballot confirmed the need for doing big homework so that a substantial part of the society accepts the Latvian state and its’ fundamentals as something personal. Many of us feel estranged, and the yesterday ballot was an act of protest for many. No matter what motives you may have, there were neither losers nor winners on February 18,” the minister said.
“That day sent a message of energetic actions and a search for an open public dialog. This dialog will promote mutual understanding, unity and trust. Let us not miss this chance. This is our common task,” he said.
A total of 24.88% (273,347) citizens said ‘yes’ to Russian as a second state language in the referendum on Saturday, February 18, the Latvian Central Elections Commission said. The majority – 74.8% or 821,722 people – said ‘no’. A total of 0.32% of ballots (3,524) were declared invalid.
The turnout stood at 70.73% or 1,092,908 voters. Latvia has a population of over 2 million, and Russian speakers amount to approximately 40% of that number.