2. Protection of the constitutional order
2.1. Russia’s compatriot policy
2.1.2. Manifestations of compatriot policy in Latvia
A range of other Russian compatriot organisations and
individual activists also remained relatively active in 2017:
- A number of humanitarian-oriented organisations, for example the “Culture Development Fund”, which handed out Saint George Ribbons at the 9 May “Victory Day” event in Riga, despite the event organisers’ stance against the centralised distribution of the ribbons, which are controversial and divisive;
- A few so-called “protection of rights” organisations such as the Human Rights Committee of Latvia, which receives regular funding from the Russian compatriots’ support foundations;
- Individual activists such as (..), the so-called “anti-fascists”, etc. For example, the “anti-fascists” traditionally focus on trying to create resonance in Russian mass media concerning Latvian Legionnaires Remembrance Day procession on 16 March, trying to organise provocative demonstrations.
The most significant development in the past year in the sphere of “defending the rights” of Russian compatriots were the protests and related activities such as petitions against the gradual transition to Latvian as the language of teaching in general educational institutions, demanding that the changes be halted or that the model of organising minority education be reformed. DP considers that by pressing the absurd accusation that Latvia is
planning the forced assimilation of Russian-speakers, LKS leader Tatjana Ždanoka along with her party’s members and other allies are trying to polarise and split society in Latvia.
For the third 9 May in a row, compatriot activist Margarita Dragiļe
together with A.Gapoņenko and Elizabete Krivcova organised one
of the central events for preserving Russian historical memory
in Riga, the “Immortal Regiment”, which has become a widely-deployed Russian humanitarian influence tool outside of Russia itself.
[Publisher’s note – caption for two photos:] Public protests against the gradual transition to Latvian as the language of teaching in general educational institutions, late 2017
The association “Memorial of our Memory” was founded on 16 November 2016. Although its stated aim is “to preserve historical memory of the dramatic events of the 20th century in Latvia”, in reality it is actively
involved in researching and preserving graves, military memorials and heritage sites in Latvia related to the Czarist and Soviet periods. The association is headed by Aleksandrs Vasiljevs, who was previously involved in founding the unregistered organisation the “Congress of Non-Citizens”. Currently, A.Vasiljevs is the director of the “Baltic Forum” (an annual event examining problem issues of relations between the West and Russia.) Several veteran Russian compatriot activists are also members of the association. In 2017, “Memorial of our Memory” organised two conferences about Soviet military graves, as well as published a map of Latvia indicating Second Word War Soviet military graves and memorials.
reports featured opinions by compatriot activists which were targeting
Latvia and exaggerated in subjects such as the supposed massive discrimination against Latvia’s minorities, the “rebirth of Nazism” in Latvia, various issues relating to interpretations of history, Latvia as an “ethnocracy” etc.
Document data: published 19.03.2018 Link: http://dp.gov.lv/en/?rt=documents&ac=download&id=33
See the concerns of international human rights organisations over the “education reform” – is the opinion of it as a measure of assimilation really “absurd”?
See also the concerns on historical memory – UN, EU and Council of Europe bodies are also critical of March the 16th annual events honouring Waffen SS, so the “so-called” Anti-Fascists are in a better company than the police.
See the congratulations sent by the President of Latvia to the Russian Culture Days in 2019 http://kaf.lv/category/дни-русской-культуры/ Their main organiser is… the “Culture Development Fund” attacked by the Security Police. Concerning the Saint George Ribbons, which CDF is attacked for – see Council of Europe experts’ evaluation in para. 18 of the report CRI(2012)3.
Concerning the “Immortal Regiment” – see how this commemorative event is evaluated by the state of New York at https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/resolutions/2017/j4960
Measures taken against the “Congress of Non-citizens” have been criticized by the FCNM Advisory Committee in its 3rd opinion on Latvia.
My Latvian Human Rights Committee is a member of the most reputable federation of human rights NGOs worldwide (FIDH). Interestingly, in the report for 2013, Security Police had recognised that membership, but in the new report, decided to forget about it.
Ms Krivcova, LL.M., is a former UN OHCHR minority fellow.
Finally, see OSCE ODIHR 2017 report on human rights defenders – it considers smearing human rights activists notable enough to include.