Publisher’s note: two other selections of historical Riga maps, some of those with Russian texts as well: http://riga.zurbu.net/maps & https://hutun.livejournal.com/18563.html One Riga map in Russian in high resolution, from circa 1880 https://www.russkije.lv/media/original/r/Riga—karta.jpg
1 Measures taken by government/public authorities
1.2 Measures affecting the general population
- Ensuring continuity of education for children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, including measures to ensure distance learning for this group
Governments regulations No. 183 on “The Regulations concerning the time of state exams in school year 2019/2020” were amended to suspend state exams for Grade 9 pupils, except for Latvian language exam in minority schools.12 Centralised exams for Grade 12 will take place as planned.
12 Governments regulations Nr 183 on “The Regulations concerning the time of state exams in school year 2019/2020” (Noteikumi par valsts pārbaudes darbu norises laiku 2019./2020. mācību gadā), at
To facilitate access to remote schooling and acquisition of qualitative content and provide greater support to parents, particularly at elementary school stage, during working days from 9.00-13.40 lessons are broadcast in a new and educational TV channel “Your class.” The channel will operate from 6 April until 29 May and will be broadcast on two free TV channels, and also available online www.tavaklase.lv 14
14 Lvportals.lv (2020). Explanations: Education in Higher Educational Establishments, Schools and Kindergardens (Skaidrojumi: Izglītība augstskolās, skolās un bērnudārzos), at https://lvportals.lv/skaidrojumi/314370-izglitiba-augstskolas-skolas-un-bernudarzos-2020
1.2.4 Access to justice
For public information purposes all legal acts connected to the state emergency situation are available in three languages – Latvian, English and Russian. 38
38 The legal acts of the Republic of Latvia (.Latvijas Republikas tiesību akti). Covid-19: legal acts in Russian (Covid-19: правовые акты на русском языке). https://likumi.lv/p/ru/covid-19
Document data: 04.05.2020. Prepared by NGO Latvian Centre for Human Rights, commissioned by FRA under contract as background material for a comparative report. The information and views contained in the document do not necessarily reflect the views or the official position of the FRA. Link: https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/lv_report_on_coronavirus_pandemic_may_2020.pdf
Publisher’s notes: it should be noted that tavaklase.lv only offers televised lessons in Latvian, except the lessons of languages as subjects. It should also be noted that the authorities began providing detailed information on the pandemics in Russian only after an outcry in mid-March, both in social networks (by Latvian Human Rights Committee and others) and in the parliament (by opposition Harmony MPs).
Vladimir BUZAYEV Legal and social situation of the Russian-speaking minority in Latvia. Riga: Averti-R, 2014 http://www.russkije.lv/files/images/text/PDF_Files/Legal-and-social-situation.pdf (also available, in a different version, in French and Russian)
Roma in Latvia. Research report 2015 – Society Integration Foundation – http://oldweb.km.lv/lv/doc/nozaru/integracija/Romi/romi_latvija_petijums_ENG.pdf
Language situation in Latvia: 2010–2015 A sociolinguistic study. Scientific Editor: L. Lauze. Editor-in-Chief: G. Kļava. Rīga: LVA, 2017. 272 pgs. http://www.valoda.lv/en/research/study-of-the-linguistic-situation/ (also available, in print version, in Latvian)
Guidelines on National Identity, Civil Society and Integration Policy (2012-2018). Cabinet of Ministers. https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/files/Sabiedribas_integracija/Petijumi/En_Pamatnostad.pdf (also available in Latvian and Russian)
Poleshchuk, Vadim (ed.). Chance to Survive. Minority Rights in Estonia and Latvia Moscow, Paris: Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, Foundation for Historical Outlook and Legal Information Centre for Human Rights. ISBN 978-9949-18-818-5 https://web.archive.org/web/20110313081515/http://www.lichr.ee/main/assets/L-3-eng.pdf (also available in Russian)
The Latvian language, Languages in Latvia. State Language Commission, 2003 http://www.vvk.lv/doc_upl/Valodas_Latvijaa_ENG.pdf (also available, in a different version, in various languages)
EUI reports on citizenship, naturalisation and electoral rights in Latvia http://globalcit.eu/country-profiles/?country=Latvia
Latvia’s report on online multilingualism (2006 or 2007) http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/1st_report_latvia.pdf
3. Protection of the constitutional order
Russian non-military influence activities in Latvia
Last year, so-called [* – See below publisher’s additional note] compatriots continued protesting against legislative amendments introducing a gradual transition to instruction in the state language in all secondary education schools. Protests were held by the unregistered KSAŠ (HQ for the Defence of Russian Schools). The activities of KSAŠ abated after the European Parliament elections, confirming VDD’s view that their primary purpose was to serve as a platform for LKS [** See below publisher’s additional note] during the election campaign. But despite the reduction of activity, there are no grounds for thinking that the education and language issue generally has lost its appeal for the orchestrators of Russia’s influence measures against Latvia. Russia is not interested in the strengthening of critical thinking or the emergence of a knowledgeable and competitive new generation in Latvia, as such people would be harder to manipulate and exploit. Furthermore, the education issue is handy for the campaign to discredit Latvia abroad. For example, at the end of 2019, in parallel with a European Russian forum in Brussels a “youth forum” was held as part of the series “Russian identity outside Russia.” During the intermission, young LKS activists dropped tendentious booklets titled “Minority Schools Under Attack in Latvia” in the mailboxes of MEPs, claiming that Russian schools face “deliberate extermination” in Latvia.
In 2019, VDD identified cases where so-called compatriots were used to provoke clashes of opinion which could lead to verbal or physical confrontations and result in vivid propaganda clips and opportunities to discredit Latvia on the global stage. As in previous years, Russia attempted to do this with the memorial events for Latvian legionnaires held on 16 March, but on the whole Latvia’s society is immune to such efforts.
Document data: 18.03.2020. ISBN 978-9934-8830-3-3 Link: https://vdd.gov.lv/en/?rt=documents&ac=download&id=55
Publisher’s additional notes:
** Latvian Russian Union party
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
D. ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported that the information sheets often used dense, legalistic language and were available only in Latvian even for detainees who spoke Russian as a first language.
E. DENIAL OF FAIR PUBLIC TRIAL
The government has established limited programs for Jewish private and communal property restitution dating from the Holocaust era. Although the country’s Jewish community estimated that approximately 265 communal properties still require restitution, a 2012 parliamentary working group identified only 80 eligible communal properties. Subsequent attempts to restart a parliamentary working group to reconcile the proposed list of properties with the Jewish community and officials from the World Jewish Restitution Organization failed to secure sufficient support. Some government officials asserted that the return of five properties seized during World War II resolved the restitution issue. Properties identified by the Jewish community included cemeteries, synagogues, schools, hospitals, and community centers.
Coalition parties acknowledged the importance of the issue and included Jewish communal property restitution as one of five priority issues in its coalition agreement, despite opposition to restitution on the part of some coalition members.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
A. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, INCLUDING FOR THE PRESS
As of October authorities investigated individuals for inciting national, ethnic, or racial hatred, but issued no indictments.
Press and Media Freedom, Including Online Media: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views with few restrictions. The law requires that 65 percent of all television broadcast time in national and regional electronic media be in Latvian or be dubbed or subtitled. Extensive Russian-language programming was also available in all national and local media. Restrictions on speech that incites racial hatred, spreads false information about the financial system, or glorifies or denies genocide, crimes against humanity, or crimes against the country by the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany also apply to print and broadcast media, the publication of books, and online newspapers and journals.
G. STATELESS PERSONS
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 225,572 stateless persons in the country at the end of 2018. This number included 224,666 persons the government considered “noncitizens.” The government recognized as stateless only those persons with no claim to foreign citizenship or noncitizen resident status. Persons categorized by authorities as stateless may pursue citizenship through naturalization after obtaining a permanent residence permit and lawfully residing in the country for five years.
UNHCR included most of the country’s noncitizen population in the stateless category, but as of 2018 also considered them persons to whom the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons does not apply. The government preferred to designate this population as noncitizen residents, since they were eligible to naturalize under the law. Noncitizen residents, mostly persons of Slavic origin who moved to the country during the Soviet occupation and their descendants, did not automatically become citizens when the country regained independence in 1991. They have permanent residency status, equal protection in the country and consular protection abroad, the right to leave and return to the country, and the right to all government social benefits. They also have employment rights, except in some government and private-sector positions related to the legal system, law enforcement, and national security. Noncitizens may not vote in local or national elections and may not organize a political party without the participation of at least an equal number of citizens.
Noncitizen residents may seek naturalization in the country. From January to September, authorities received 714 naturalization applications; of these, 530 received their citizenship by September, and 31 failed to pass the language exam but can reapply. Of the other 153 applications, some did not yet take the test; some withdrew their applications, and some passed away. In public surveys of noncitizen residents, the majority of respondents who did not seek naturalization reported that, in addition to language barriers, their reasons for not doing so included political objections to the requirement and their understanding that Latvian citizenship was not necessary for them to travel to Russia and EU-member states.
A subset of these noncitizen permanent residents hold citizenship in a different country, such as Russia, although the exact number and percentage were unknown, and dual citizenship for noncitizen permanent residents older than age 25 is not legal. This subgroup while living in Latvia may not only travel in the Schengen area like other noncitizen permanent residents but may also travel visa-free to and from Russia.
A new law promulgated on November 5 grants automatic citizenship at birth to children of noncitizen residents born after January 1, 2020, resolving a long-standing dispute in the country.
Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
ELECTIONS AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
Political Parties and Political Participation: Citizens may organize political parties without restriction. The law prohibits the country’s noncitizen residents from organizing political parties without the participation of at least an equal number of citizens. The election law prohibits persons from holding public office who remained active in the Communist Party or other pro-Soviet organizations after 1991 or who worked for such institutions as the Soviet KGB.
Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit the participation of women and members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate. Approximately 28 percent of the ethnic minority population were noncitizen residents who could not participate in elections and had no representation in government.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights
NGOs continued to criticize the Office of the Ombudsman for lacking the institutional authority or capacity to investigate and act on allegations of discrimination. The office also encountered difficulties resolving problems that required parliamentary funding or changes in the law. In a report published on March 5, the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) observed that the ombudsman’s mandate does not include providing independent assistance to victims of racism and racial discrimination.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Birth Registration: Citizenship derives from one’s parents. Only one parent must be a citizen to transmit nationality to a child. A law promulgated by President Egils Levits on November 5 mandates automatic birthright citizenship for children of noncitizen residents born after January 1, 2020, and replaces a system that required permission from at least one of the parents for such a child to acquire citizenship. Prior to the law, fewer than approximately 50 children per year were born into this situation. Those children are still eligible for citizenship via naturalization.
Government sources estimated that between 4,500 and 8,200 Jewish residents lived in the country. There were no reports of anti-Semitic attacks against individuals, although there were public references to stereotypes on the internet by some fringe groups. Anti-Semitic hate speech followed the election on May 29 of Egils Levits, who is of Jewish heritage, as president of the country and the introduction in parliament of a bill on Jewish property restitution in June. The leadership of the Jewish community stated that relations were generally positive.
On March 16, four members of parliament from the right-wing populist National Alliance party attended the annual march to commemorate Latvians who fought in German Waffen SS units against the Soviet Army in World War II. No Nazi symbols or insignia were seen at the march. Domestically, the march was generally viewed as a commemoration of national identity and remembrance of those who fought for independence, rather than as a glorification of Nazism. Authorities told ECRI that, although they do not support the March 16 commemoration, they are unable to prevent it taking place because of court judgments overturning the Riga City Council’s ban of the event. Authorities underlined that they remained vigilant and would intervene if any symbols of Nazism were displayed during these events.
On July 4, Jewish community representatives, government officials, and foreign diplomats attended the Holocaust commemoration ceremony in Riga.
NGOs representing minority groups stated that discrimination and harassment of national minorities, including what they considered hate speech, remained underreported to authorities. Through September the ombudsman did not receive any written complaints of racial discrimination, although they did receive two complaints of ethnic discrimination. ECRI heard from NGOs, minority representatives, and the ombudsman that victims of hate speech often did not report incidents to police because they distrusted the willingness and ability of police to investigate these cases effectively.
In the first eight months of the year, the State Security Service initiated five criminal cases for incitement of social hatred and enmity.
The Romani community continued to face widespread societal discrimination and high levels of unemployment and illiteracy. The Central Statistical Bureau reported 4,983 Roma lived in the country.
Section 7. Worker Rights
D. DISCRIMINATION WITH RESPECT TO EMPLOYMENT AND OCCUPATION
Labor laws and regulations prohibit discrimination. Following Soviet-era russification and relocation programs and the creation of a sizeable Russian-speaking minority, the government required the use of Latvian as the officially recognized language where employment activities “affect the lawful interests of the public.”
Employment discrimination also occurred with respect to sexual orientation, gender identity, and ethnicity. [..] The Romani community faced discrimination and high levels of unemployment.
Document data: 11.03.2020 Link: https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/latvia/