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Ceturtdiena 21.11.2019 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte
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Ushakov supports referendum on Russian as official language

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Nils Ushakov

Despite the political association Harmony Center has repeatedly stressed that it does not support a referendum on granting Russian the status of an official language, its leader Nils Ushakov, Riga Mayor, has signed for holding the national vote. He explains the move with him defending his dignity and by no means turning against the Latvian language.

Last week, the government reviewed allocation of funds to collection of signatures for Russian as the second official state language. In accordance with the law, if 10 000 signatures have been collected, the state needs to keep funding the initiative regardless what it advocates. A democratic country, which respects each and every citizen, is obliged to allocate funds for that, Ushakov says in a statement.

He adds that this is not, however, the case of the current government, because ministers representing the national association All for Latvia!/TB-LNNK called the goal of the initiators amoral and voted against it. “I repeat once more that the goal does not matter. People have the right to hold a national vote if they want. More than 10 000 Latvian citizens voted “for”, therefore, the law must be obeyed. Ministers are not righteous to interpret the laws and divide Latvian citizens into those with correct or incorrect opinions,” Riga Mayor says.

He believes this signals lack of respect towards a great part of the society.

Ushakov points out that he is not willing to follow the path of banal maters. However, he adds that when Latvian ministers directly humiliate certain groups of people, one should not settle with the fact that he is not the one in the middle of it.

“It can as well be you the next day, when you as a pensioner are deprived of a bonus payment, you as a student are taken away the state-funded studies, or you as a mother lose the very last maternity benefit.”

Back in summer, President Andris Berzins announced that he was ready to speak with the Russian press in Russian. Many of my Russian-speaking acquaintances then said that there was no actual need for that, because the statement alone showed respect. And the Russian-speaking community was in turn ready to show their respect and listen to Berzins only in Latvian.

According to him, Latvia needs no integration programs, especially if it is ministers who come up with them. “All we need is respect towards all the residents regardless their ethnicity. As a result, the majority of the Russian-speaking Latvians would gladly contribute to strengthening the Latvian language.”

The current signatures collection is linked more with dignity, not so much the Russian language. People who come to sign show that they are sick and tired with the attitude from the part of the leading politicians. What must be clear is that no one of those signing for the referendum is against neither Latvians nor the Latvian language. People stand up against politicians who are the least interested in the interests of Latvians, according to Riga Mayor.

“This is why I signed for holding the referendum. I have to stand hand in hand with hundreds of thousands of Latvian residents who want to defend their dignity. I do not care about the fact that it might pave the way to numerous offenses from the part of my opponents. I will simply do not hold any discussions with people who have long been scaring Latvians with Russians, meanwhile pushing the state into the most severe crisis in Europe,” he says.

Ref: 102.105.105.187


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