BNN rounds up publishing the interview with Janis Jurkans, who ran the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when Latvia’s independence was restored. In the first part of the interview, Jurkans spoke about his work in Antonov’s team and presented his opinion on why Krajbanka collapsed. The second part of the interview dealt with business interrelation with politics and a referendum on Russian as an official language. Today the founder of People’s Harmony Party reflects on the harmony between communities and the pride.
Russians might accuse each other of laziness
What is your opinion of Russian as an official language in Latvia?
Less signatures than Urbanovih, Ushakov and Linderman hope will be collected. And what if they indeed succeed to gather the necessary number of signatures? What will that give apart from splitting up the society? Nothing!
The issue was topical only at the political level before, is it now going to be a domestic issue as well?
I would rather say that the issue is 10% at the domestic level and 90% at the political level. The share will not, of course, change in the direction of agreement between Latvians and Russians. But it will not be catastrophic either. On the one hand, most of people are concerned with how to live and survive. On the other hand, Latvians and Russians lack forces that would undertake organizing long-term political campaigns.
Is the system of the bicommunal state that boosts distrust between the communities?
Politically – of course. The media will simply not stop reporting on that. If an insufficient number of signatures is collected, no one will reproach it to Latvians. But some Russians will indeed accuse others of laziness, say, we ran the risk but you did not even bother to go and sign. Linderman will tell that his language skills are good and that it was not him that needed it, say, I did it for you, guys.
What will Ushakov say?
Ushakov will hope that regardless the referendum is or is not hold in the eve of the municipal elections, the Russian speaking inhabitants will any way vote for “their” people.
The proud left, the humiliated stayed
What will leave a bigger impact on the state of the society – Antonov and Krajbanka or “awakening” of the Russian national pride?
What pride are we talking about? I think that neither Latvians, nor Russians have any. All the proud people left already a long time ago. Only the humiliated ones stayed. They know little about pride. I am not accusing anyone. I am talking about people in general – about people who have forgotten what it means to be proud about one’s country, nationality and school. I don’t see any pride in them, because the government keeps humiliating and insulting them.
How is the government insulting them?
Take the standard of living as an example. People are treated as some kind of an occupied tribe. Everything is second-rate here in Latvia, including medicine and education. All kinds of mere rhetoricians rule and a chauffeur’s son (BNN: former Transport Minister Ainars Slesers presented such a “gift” to his driver’s son) and some Sprudzs are appointed to a high post. And we also have Zatlers who is behaving like a clown! Where can pride possibly come from under such circumstances? If there was any, there would be campaigns and protests. Why aren’t non-governmental organizations holding campaigns? Where are trade unions? There is nothing. Therefore, the state is humiliating people in all the forms it pleases.
Then, in accordance with the definition of the first among equals, would you agree that Ushakov is the first among the humiliated Russians and Dzintars – the first among the humiliated Latvians?
Ushakov does not see it like that. Neither does Dzintars. They feel like captains of some teams that have their fans. Even if my team loses – I am the captain and I am still popular. And looking for the Christmas tree does boost his popularity. So do candlelight processions. But still it will all be forgotten one day.
Can we formulate all what you have been saying in one sentence? Latvia – the country of humiliated fans?
I would like to repeat that no one can be humiliated without his own consent. The state’s attitude reaches everyone without an exception, however, some people might have learnt to ignore all that. I don’t doubt that such people do not even notice it. They keep their money in cash and could not care less for Krajbanka.
Let’s specify the wording: Latvia – a country of humiliated fans and those who ignore the state?
You see, I myself once tried not to bother. I thought I would quit politics and ignore all of it. It does not work that way. The state has so many instruments to trace you. When pensions are turned into poverty benefits, won’t that be the last straw? It will! The ruling power has occupied us like some kind of a tribe.
Conclusions – Latvia – a country occupied by the ruling power?
And those in the opposition turn out to be guerrillas?
No. The current opposition is quite conventional. It is just like an accessory, something like the field gendarmerie battalion. No decent opposition would have ever settled with what the power has done with the state.