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MOSCOW, February 21 (Itar-Tass) —— A Latvian referendum over the recognition of the Russian language as the second state language became a good signal for those, who do not want to notice this problem, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
“It is obvious that the Russian language status problem exists in the former Soviet republics and the Latvian referendum noted the problem,” Naryshkin believes. He called the referendum result as predictable, recalling that about a fourth of Latvian citizens voted for Russian as the second state language, “while about 300,000 people were deprived of the right to vote at the referendum.”
“It becomes clear how acute this problem was,” the speaker went on to say. Meanwhile, “this is a very good signal, including to various European institutions, which are seeking to turn a blind eye and to ignore this problem,” he noted. “But the referendum showed that this problem exists and should be settled,” the speaker of the lower house of Russian parliament concluded.
On February 18, Latvia held the referendum over the Russian language status as the second state language. Some 71.12% of Latvian citizens that is 1,098,921 people participated in the referendum. Some 950 polling stations were opened in the Baltic republic and another 85 polling stations in other countries.
Some 24.88% (273,347) of voters supported the Russian language status as the second state language in Latvia, the Latvian Central Elections Commission reported. Most voters that made 74.8% (821,722) voted against relevant amendments in the Latvian Constitution. Some 0.32% (3,524) ballot papers were found invalid.
The Native Language society has earlier put forward the initiative to hold a referendum in retaliation to the actions of Latvian radical movements, which staged a signup campaign for the transfer of all Russian schools funded by the Latvian authorities to the studies on the Latvian language.