“Language police in Latvia is fighting the Russian language”: summary & disproof, 2019


The national media regulator of Latvia has temporarily suspended retranslation of the Russia 1 TV channel, at the same time when Russophobia is growing in the country. Language police in Latvia is fighting the Russian language. Latvian Russophobia has a particular angle against the Russian language. A language police is monitoring the use of Latvian in public places.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the discrimination of Russian speakers.

There is no language police in Latvia. The state institution, National Language Centre of Latvia, supervises the implementation of Official Language Law of Latvia that outlines the use of the state language (Latvian) in public sphere in Latvia and stipulates that “everyone has the right to present submissions and communicate in the official language [Latvian] in institutions, public and religious organisations and undertakings (companies)”. The Official Language Law in Latvia does not apply to the use of language in unofficial communications of the inhabitants of Latvia, in internal communications of national and ethnic groups, or in services, ceremonies, rituals and other kinds of religious activity of religious organisations. Read more here.  

Between 31 May 2017 and 22 May 2018, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEMMC) found several occurrences of hate speech and incitement to ethnic hatred in the programmes of the “Rossiya RTR” channel, namely “60 minutes” and “Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov”. For example, in the latter programme broadcast on May 22, 2018, NEMCC found “explicitly and repeatedly voiced hate speech against parts of the Ukrainian state”, including incitement to “hang and kill” certain Ukrainians.

According to the NEMMC, the programmes mentioned above were in violation of article 6 of the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (“Member States shall ensure by appropriate means that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality”); This was the reason given for suspending the broadcasting in Latvia for three months.

For more information, see here and here.

Document data: The Disinformation Review No. 135, 03.02.2019. Reference is being made to a news story from a Russian state-owned TV channel. Link: https://euvsdisinfo.eu/report/language-police-in-latvia-is-fighting-the-russian-language/ Notably the East StratCom Task Force, while belonging to the EU European External Action Service, makes a disclaimer that its publication does not represent an official EU position.

Publisher’s notes: the issue of Russia’s TV is not directly related to Latvia’s minorities, so it will not be commented on here. Concerning the existence of a language police, the authors are trying to split hairs. Indeed, the State Language Centre is not called (!) “language police” officially. However, it does inspect private enterprises and impose fines. The relevant subdivision of the SLC is called Language Control Department, and its officials are called inspectors. They are not investigating criminal cases – but neither are many of the municipal police units, so the distinction between language inspectors and police officers is purely a linguistic one.

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