Latviski English По-русски
Saturday 17.03.2018 | Name days: Ģertrūde, Gerda, Gertrūde

Defenders of Russian schools are united by more than just public activities

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUActivists who wish to secure higher importance and range of application of Russian language in Latvia have been coming out to the streets more frequently lately. Behind numerous public events there is a well-structured network of non-governmental organizations, and at least some part of them have been receiving support, including financial, from foundations created by the Russian government.

De facto programme of LTV reports that many of the notable activists in Latvia are united not just by the cause they share. Organizers of events have been trained by one teacher. They remain in contact with him still. This person is Bronislav Zelcerman. He confirms that he was one of the key figures in the most recent Russian language referendum in Latvia.

Two weeks ago, this week and next week – public events in support for Russian schools are starting to pick a certain rhythm. They are becoming louder and more intense. Participants of these events also make references to recent events in Ukraine.

‘Adamantly – it is best to be educated in native tongue, think in native tongue and act,’ – said Bronislav Zelcerman in his interview to radio Baltkom. He and his colleague Aleksandr Gaponenko were previously noted as the organizers of the language referendum in Latvia. Gaponenko is also a known radical element, who had previously demanded Latgale to be made an autonomous territory.

In the same interview, Zelcerman drew attention to the backstage of the language referendum: ‘I was not alone in this. I had a team. I can say exactly how many people organized it – 47 aside from Linderman. All of them were present at all preparation stages. 47 people per such a country. We did what set out to do.’

Recent events lead to believe that a second coming is due for public protests. Now the target has been moved to schools of national minorities. It is not hard for Linderman to gather a team. He has been in charge of the Eksperiments teaching centre for innovative teaching approach. This centre has been releasing young leaders.

‘In my opinion, leaders are people who are prepared to give their lives for their ideas,’ – as Zelcerman described his opinion in his interview.

Zelcerman’s trained leaders can now be seen in movements that frequently actualize and carry to the streets matters regarding Russian schools and non-citizens. The role of this teacher in the education of the next generation was previously noticed by Latvia’s Security Police as well. Even now this institution keeps a close eye on the young activists. What is notable about them is that they often use arguments that harmonize with Russia and its geopolitical interests.

Chief of Security Police Janis Reikins says this: ‘This kind of education is not focused on increasing national identity and consolidation of Latvia’s society. This kind of education only contributes to the popularization of Russia’s interests and its possible ties with Latvia’s development and the country’s course of foreign and domestic policy.’

One of the most notable students of Zelcerman is now the member of Harmony Centre, MPE candidate, and leader of the Non-citizens Congress Elizabete Krivcova.

When asked about the possible cooperation of multiple NGOs with institutions associated with Russian government, Krivcova says: ‘Our goal is to form cooperation with Russian institutions on the basis of representation. Not in the current way or form. Instead, we want cooperation to be on equal terms, as though between equal partners. […] We have known common interests with Russia – it wants, and this wish is often well-founded, to criticize Latvia. We, on the other hand, want to distribute this information.’

Krivcova’s activities allow her to be regarded as the head of the process, as she works in politics. She meets with ministers, but she is not seen participating in public protest acts. Another of Zelcerman’s students can be found there – Illarion Girs.

Krivcova works with hand-in-hand with other students of Zelcerman’s – Margarita Dragile, Olga Gogina and Yelena Bacinska.

A carefully crafted system is behind public protest acts. Each person involved plays his own role – Russian school defence headquarters participates in street protests, Non-citizens Congress – tries to defend interests of Russian speakers on a political level. Other organizations try to recruit parents and young people.

Zelcerman’s students and he personally organized this week’s national minorities’ parents forum, which was organized in order to expand the audience of Russian language defence. These activists also work closely with each other in Perom movement. Its leader, Dragile, mentioned in some interview the organizing of summer camps for young people with a special emphasis on defence of language and rights. Young people are a valuable resource for Russia’s interests.

Executive Director of the Eastern European Policy Research Centre Andis Kudrs says: ‘This is the future. If the previous generation still lives in Soviet nostalgia and partially in the information space, the new generation should be fought over. Russian-speaking young people here in Latvia are more European than those who are busy creating the Eurasian Union.’

Annual accounts of the movement show that many of them have been closely working with foundations created by Russian authorities and have been receiving financial aid from Russia.

Several years ago, Zelcerman’s led pedagogy centre Eksperiment had formed a private school – Innova. Based on Russian education methodology, this private school now teaches 80 children all the way from first to twelfth grade.


Leave a reply

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Building gas pipe to Finland, Estonia to organise works for EUR 135 million

Continuing the works on the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Estonian natural gas network company Elering has stated that around 135 million euros, including a 98-million-euro funding from the European Union, will be invested in the project.

Replacement of cash registers rejected by SRS would cost half a million euros

The State Revenue Service has declined 18,000 cash registers as unfitting for requirements established by the Cabinet of Ministers. Fixing the problems found in them would cost half a million euros, as reported by LNT News.

Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee presented with protest restrictions on 16 March

Administrative District Court has compiled a shortened ruling, in which it rejected Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee’s application and preserved the decision imposed by Riga City acting CEO on 13 March 2018 on establishing restrictions on the planned gathering and protest act for 16 March unchanged.

U.S. introduces Russian sanctions for election meddling and cyber-attacks

Washington has introduced sanctions against 19 Russian individuals and five entities blaming them for attempts to sway the 2016 U.S. election and perceived cyber-attacks.

Slovakian PM Fico replaced with fellow party member

Slovakian head of government Robert Fico has stepped down after the murder of a journalist shed light on corruption in Slovakia, prompting nationwide protests. The long-standing Prime Minister had offered to resign earlier this week if the ruling coalition was allowed to finish its term.

Weekends will be cold and sunny in Latvia; next week will have volatile weather

Starting with Sunday, 18 March, air temperature in Latvia will rise above zero in most of the country, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s ruling LFGU party remains unscathed by scandals

It seems that, for now, Lithuania‘s ruling Farmers and Green Union has been nearly damage-proof despite the lambasting.

Latvian Civic Alliance: non-government sector should aim towards cooperation

Latvian Civic Alliance has invited the management of Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to meet to discuss ongoing cooperation between organizations representing the business sector and the NGO sector.

Saeima rejects National Alliance’s proposal to make 16 March an official remembrance day

Latvia’s Saeima has decided to reject the proposal submitted by the National Alliance on making 16 March an official remembrance day.

43.6% of Latvian households have difficulties with making ends meet

In 2017 the share of households admitting that pay for usual necessary expenses with difficulty or great difficulty constituted 43.6 %, which is 1.5 percentage points more than in 2016.

Saeima voices support for Rail Baltica project’s progression

On Thursday, 15 March, the Saeima made a decision to support Rail Baltica project’s progression. In its decision, the parliament invited Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers to provide all the necessary support for the project’s successful realization to ensure the project is realized in accordance with established terms and does not lose funding or support from the European Union, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Fast snow shovelling linked to cardiac fatalities, Finnish study finds

In Finish doctoral study, it has been concluded that snow should be shovelled calmly, not provoking stress and increased adrenaline in human blood that could lead to cardiac arrest.

Riga’s mayor spent at least eight million euros of residents’ money to promote himself

Over the course of the past three years, at least EUR 8 million of residents’ money has been used to promote the image of the Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs. This money was used to buy media, employ young members of Harmony, and finance ‘in-house protestors’ and using social networks, as estimated by Re:Baltica research journalism center.

Slovenia's head of government resigns amid protests and struggling railway investment

The Slovenian head of government Miro Cerar has stepped down from office in reaction to troubles with an expensive railway project and mounting opposition by trade unions.

NAF Commander: Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned

Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned, Commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces Leonīds Kalniņš told journalists after his meeting with Commander of Estonia’s Defence Forces Riho Terras.

Estonia's switch to free higher education proved right choice, says Ratas

The switch to free higher education made by Estonia in 2013 has proved to be the right choice for a small country, even though critics have pointed to potentially less motivated students, has stated the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

President: we will not give away our scientists’ ideas for free

It is necessary to concentrate all resources on research performed by Latvian scientists with patent potential. This will help secure returns for Latvia’s national economy, said President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis during his meeting with rector of Riga Technical University Artūrs Zeps.

Members of the European Parliament propose avoiding «trade wars»

MEPs emphasized in debates regarding the trade restrictions imposed by USA that European Union should not get involved in a trade war, and be ready to protect its citizens, as BNN was told by EP Information office in Latvia.

Newest comments