The mayor or Riga Neil Ushakov and Vladimir Linderman the leader of the “For the mother language” society are knowingly provoking a national conflict between Russians and Latvians, claims Dzintars Zakis, chairman of the parliamentary fraction of “Unity” to the BNN newsman.
The worry about this as well as the desire to know just how deeply the radical moods differ from each other within the Russian commune in Latvia, have prompted the “Unity” party to organize a meeting with the representatives of the Russian intellectuals. Those they invited are: writer and publicist Marina Kosteneckaya, president of SH “Dzintars” Professor Ilya Gerchikov, and the political scientist Maria Golubeva.
“This meeting will be followed by others,-Zakis assured. – We want to know just how important the national problem is for the Russian populace in general. Right now it is obvious that the face of the political association “Harmony center” and Linderman are hosting a number of events aimed at escalating the ethnic conflict in Latvia”. A BNN correspondent asked the leader of Visu Latvijai!/TB-LNNK about whether their initiative to convert the national minorities school to Latvian was a provocative event as well, Dzintars Zakis replied: „It was a singular event that had no continuation, which is why it did not cause distress”.
President of SH “Dzintars” Ilya Gerchikov noted in the discussion with BNN, that the representatives of the “Unity” party merely listened to what they had to say: -My position, voiced on this meeting, is based on the following. There is no such hate between Russians and Latvians that is being cultivated by the radical politicians. It would be best to unite the views of both societies, instead of dividing them by ethnic principles.
Especially since 1989 country has lost to both natural population declines and work migration over 1 million people. I reviewed the data from the population census of 1989. At that time 2 million 680 thousand people lived here. Judging by the last census there are only 1 million 700 thousand of us left. I think that politicians who are oriented on nationalism have miscalculated two things. First: the heavy economic situation has caused many Latvians to leave and seek jobs in other countries, which in turn increased the ratio of Russians and it became impossible to ignore that kind of number of citizens. Second: it is not physically possible to assimilate so many people. Politicians from “Unity” did not comment my opinion, and even if they did make some conclusions, they did not share them with us”.
Mr. Gerchikov is certain that the not so well advertised course towards assimilation has given an ultimately different outcome. Russians, who were forced to learn Latvian language, now know it, as well as English and many other languages, which makes them competitive in the work market. On the other hand Latvians, who lost the opportunity to learn other languages, are not accepted on work interviews. “Latvian market is set for the East, despite others claiming the West. And the East mainly speaks in Russian. So that is why when preserving Latvian language, it is necessary to have a second official language. Because it is abnormal, when 40% of the population, by that I mean Russians, are unable to read the instructions on medications in an understandable language. And the collection of signatures for Russian language to become the second official language, is merely a form of protest of the Russian population against the fact that they were put against the wall”,- summarizes the entrepreneur.
In a conversation with BNN Dzintars Zakis decided not to share his thought on the “Russian dilemma”: „We will begin to make decisions after we’ve had about ten meetings with the representatives of the Russian society, as well as think of what measures to use should a necessity appear.