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Latvian premier against granting voting rights to non-citizens

April 25, 2012, 23:04 UTC+3

The referendum on the Russian language as the second official language in Latvia was held in min-February

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RIGA, April 25 (Itar-Tass) —— Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis does not support the proposal to grant to local non-citizens, mostly ethnic Russians, the right to participate in the election of self-government bodies. He said this in an interview with LNT television channel on Wednesday.

“Such initiatives are absolutely groundless. As is known, only citizens in Latvia have the right to vote in all elections. Non-citizens have the opportunity to get naturalized (passing the examination for the knowledge of the Latvian language and Latvia’s history) and receive Latvian citizenship. This is what many non-citizens do. I believe this policy of integration and naturalization should continue,” he said.

The Latvian society “For Honesty and Justice” this week made a call to non-citizens to address letters to representative and executive bodies of the European Union to show disagreement with the Latvian authorities’ discriminatory policy against non-citizens. Such massive addresses must prompt the EU to bring pressure on the Latvian authorities and compel them to grant to non-residents the right to vote in the municipal elections, the society holds.

The referendum on the Russian language as the second official language in Latvia was held in min-February, in which 71.12 percent of citizens took part. 24.88 percent of the citizens voted for such amendment to the constitution, while 74.8 percent voted against.

“Citizenship to all non-citizens” action is under way in Latvia now. Its organizers must collect 10,000 notary-verified signatures in order to hold a nation-wide referendum on this matter. As many as 2,000 signatures have already been collected.

Latvia has a population of over two million, including some 320,000 people, mostly Russians, having no Latvian citizenship. From the time Latvia ceded from the USSR in 1991 they were stripped from most political rights, including the right to vote in the municipal and parliamentary elections and in the elections to the European parliament.


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