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Tuesday 20.03.2018 | Name days: Made, Irbe

Ushakov: absolute majority of Russians in Latvia want to live in an independent country

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU‘It is impossible to force people whose native tongue is Russian to hate Russia. This should not be done. Even a Latvian who lives in America will not criticize Latvia. An absolute majority of Russians who live here want to live in an independent Latvia,’ – says Mayor of Riga Nil Ushakov.

In his interview to Latvijas Avīze, Ushakov does not deny the fact that there are people with opposing views. He added that there are plenty of ‘radical elements on both sides. This phenomenon has been present for the past 20 years.’

When asked why Harmony Centre voted against Saeima’s decision in regard to the events in Ukraine, Riga’s Mayor said: ‘First of all, I wish to especially emphasize that we are against any bloodshed in Ukraine. I would also like to add that any and all conflicts in Europe are resolved without military force. This also applies to Russia. Secondly, we support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. There can be no other option. Thirdly, we support the initiative to hold an international investigation of all acts of violence in Ukraine, starting with Kyiv and all the way to Crimea. It is internationally accepted to have representatives of OSCE participate in investigations. This kind of approach would be ideal for situations with controversial information. Who were the armed people who operated in Crimea? Why did Estonian Defence Minister raise the matter regarding snipers in Kyiv and their possible ties with the people in power there? Questions such as these continue to surface every day.’

Furthermore, Ushakov believes ‘there are no differences in opinions on the fact that what is currently happening in Ukraine is unacceptable. But we do not want to “break dishes” at home while trying to help Ukraine. EU countries request the conflict in Ukraine to end without breaking ties with Russia. This conflict will end eventually. Russia will be there as well. This has to be taken into account.’

‘Parliamentary and presidential elections should be carried out in Ukraine as soon as possible, so that a legitimate and democratic government may come into power and respect the interests of all regions of Ukraine. If the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, we may end up with a new Yugoslavia. We cannot allow this to happen. It is the direct responsibility of the European Union and Russia – to help with the formation of a country where national minorities would be guaranteed their rights. This would reduce tension within the country. God forbid us to see another conflict like the one Yugoslavia suffered in the ‘90s. I tell you this as an ethnic Russian: I do not ever want to see Russians fighting Ukrainians. I believe it would be utter lunacy. There are plenty of instruments available to prevent war and violence,’ – says the politician.

He says he understands perfectly well why many Latvians feel threatened. ‘There have been precedents in Latvia’s history involving tanks. The current situation in Ukraine can make anyone feel threatened. It is highly important for every Russian-speaking resident of Latvia to tell his or her Latvian-speaking neighbour, colleague or friend something along the lines of: ”Don’t worry. There won’t be any tanks.’ – says Ushakov.


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  1. Mr T says:


    You are a shame for Latvia, you don’t belong in a civilized world. It’s very sad you use Russian language as a tool to fool your fellow Russians here to vote for you as the mayor of Riga!

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  2. Foreigner in Riga says:

    I’ve lived in Riga for a couple of years and got to know many good Latvian speaking Latvians and many good Russian speaking Latvians.

    I understand and sympathize with both sides. Soviet occupation, with its deportations, russification and mass immigration, was a real horror. Had it not been for this, Latvia would exist of a higher proportion of Latvians and the quality of life would be like in Germany or Scandinavia.

    For the past 25 years Russian speakers have been second class citizens for no other reason that they speak an “unofficial” language. Many lost their jobs because they weren’t good enough in Latvian. Just as many cannot become citizens although they’ve lived almost their entire lives in Latvia. They get paid a minimal pension even though they had a good job in Soviet times.

    I urge you; face reality. Latvia is bilingual. Let’s look into the future and make a new Latvian identity TOGETHER. Let Russian speakers feel closer to Latvia than to Russia. Everyone will benefit.

    Hint: Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore are among the richest countries in the world. What do they have in common?

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    • Neil says:

      If today a Russian speaker still feels he is a second class citizen, then it is his choice. Nobody forbids Russian speakers to speak Russian. But after living in Latvia for several decades it would just be polite to speak Latvian with Latvians.

      As Anita already explained, Latvia is the only place in world where the Latvian language can exist and develop, whereas the Russian language and culture has never been endangered.

      You did not mention the fact that most of the 280000 non-citizens don’t want to become citizens at all! They would lose their status of visa free travel to Russia if they became Latvian or EU citizens.

      Many of the non-citizens would not have a problem to pass the language exam to become a Latvian citizen. The naturalization process is easier than it’s equivalent in Germany e.g.

      Considering jobs, it is the other way around today in Riga. Latvians are declined jobs if they can’t speak Russian.

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  3. michael walsh, journalist says:

    Incomprehensible to some, the vexed issue of Russophobia is not confined to the Baltic States though more understandable than when it comes from the U.S. whose banks financed Bolshevism. There is the crux; too many think Russian = Bolshevism. Rather like an Irishman (me) equating England with Black and Tans. Remember, Russians too were victims of Bolshevism.

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  4. Anita says:

    To Foreigner in Riga about: “Hint: Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore are among the richest countries in the world. What do they have in common?” I think because Latvian is not spoken elsewhere (unlike Russian & all languages spoken in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore) it should remain the only official language in order to preserve it. Otherwise it will be swamped. Also, economic riches is not the wealth we should only care about .

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