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Saturday 17.02.2018 | Name days: Konstance, Donats

Latgalian residents living along the border know Putin, but not Bērziņš

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe current situation in Ukraine – with Russia attempting to carve up Crimea – is possible mostly because Crimea has been under the influence of Kremlin’s television channels.

A good example would be a similar situation with Russian media channels in Latgale, Latvia.

Each roof has all kinds of antennae and satellite dishes – all point towards Russia and Belarus. This kind of image can be found throughout Latvia’s border, as reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3.

As residents have become used to the censured news coming from Putin and Lukashenko, they take their word as truth. The impact of this information war on Latvia’s state security has been talked about for years.

‘Our country has no care for this kind of thing. I believe municipalities can do whatever they want – teach children patriotism in schools, hold different events and so on, but if there is no actual movement from the state, I’m sorry – we cannot change this situation otherwise,’ – said Chairman of Dagda region Viktors Stikuts four years ago.

At the time popular politician, social servant and a true patriot of Latvia Andris Badūns wrote a letter to the Security Police with a request to prevent propaganda coming from Russia and Belarus from taking over the country’s border regions.

Security Police praised him for his patriotic views. Politicians of responsible Saeima committees – Ingrīda Circene and Māris Kučinskis – promised to act.

Four years later, the programme decided to see for itself what the government of Latvia has done in this time in order to defend its national interests along the border and if residents still only watch television programmes from Minsk and Moscow instead of those from the Latvian capital.

Residents who can afford decoders and those who can afford satellite broadcast or cable are satisfied. These positive examples are more of an exception to the rule. According to municipalities, the audience of Latvian television channels has reduced in the past four years. This is because television channels from Russia and Belarus are free of charge, unlike those of Latvia.

‘Maybe the government could solve the problems along the border in some way. Our region is the most problematic in this regard. This is mostly because it has the longest border with Belarus. However, considering there is at least 10 km of uninhabited area between us and Belarus, imagine how strong a signal they have for their channels to be able to reach us beyond the forests,’ – says Dagda Regional Council Chairwoman Sandra Viškure.

This signal is the only source of news for Elizabete Strode. She cannot afford a decoder for Latvian channels. Even though she is born Latvian, she has forgotten her native tongue because of television. Her antenna could not reach Riga even four years ago. She was promised to be given a decoder at some point, but that never happened. The only link she has to Latvian politicians is the recent congratulation she received from the Mayor of Riga for March 8th. Naina Maslova admits she would like to watch Latvian channels if she had a decoder for them.

Four years ago there was a situation when residents who watched mostly Russian channels supported the policy used in Russia and Belarus. Four years later, nothing has changed.

When asked if they know the name of the President of Latvia, Dagda’s residents reply: ‘How should I know?’ or ‘I seem to have forgotten…’ and ‘Zatlers. No! Not Zatlers…What was his name…Bērziņš. I know how he looks like. I also know he is a millionaire’.

‘We need to offer our residents – citizens and non-citizens – maximum of accurate and objective information about events that transpire in the world and in Latvia in a language they understand,’ – says the head of Dagda’s nursing home Andris Badūns.


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  1. Oddis says:

    Is this really a problem that some few thousand people watch Russian TV? It’s even more sickening to hear these “patriotic” nationalists spreading news about the fantastcic country Latvia. Collectivism is the root of all eveil.

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