Riga, January 1996
Postal address: 16, Marijas str., fl.18, LV-1011, Riga, Latvia
tel.(3717)288883, fax (3717)210248
As a result of the state politics to oust from Latvia some "undesirable" part of its population, we can conclude that Latvia has now become the segregated state. At the present moment, inhabitants of Latvia are divided into the following five categories according to their legal status:
1. CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA OF LATVIAN ETHNICITY - 1,362.000 persons (52.3% of population);
2. CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA OF NON-LATVIAN ETHNICITY - 367,000 persons (14.1% of population);
CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA OF NON-LATVIAN ETHNICITY - This is 21.2% of citizens, among them 76% are ethnic Russians. They do not have a proportional representation in the state structures with only 8% in Latvian parliament (Saeima), and 7% in Riga city council (67% of the whole population of Riga and 32% of its citizens-inhabitants are non-Latvians). There are not any non-Latvians among the ministers and heads of the state departments. They are restricted in the right on labor. They have to pass obligatory attestation on state language. They are also restricted in the right on education. The higher education in the Russian language which was supported by the state has been liquidated while support of the highest levels (10-12) of Russian secondary schools is continuously deminuated. The methods put into practice are well illustrated by the closing of the Russian 26-th secondary school where force was used against protesting women and children more than once.
3. PEOPLE WHO DO NOT CORRESPOND TO THE CATEGORY OF CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA, AND WHO WERE PERMANENT RESIDENTS ON JULY 1, 1992 AND WERE INCLUDED IN THE REGISTER OF THE INHABITANTS OF LATVIA - 715,000 persons (27.4% of population);
4. PEOPLE WHO DO NOT CORRESPOND TO THE CATEGORY OF CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA, AND WHO WERE PERMANENT RESIDENTS ON JULY 1, 1992, BUT WERE NOT INCLUDED IN THE REGISTER OF THE INHABITANTS OF LATVIA - 30,000 persons (2.2% of population);
5. FOREIGN CITIZENS AND PEOPLE WITHOUT CITIZENSHIP, WHO CAME TO LATVIA AFTER JULY 1,1992 - several thousand persons. NON-CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA -These are people who possessed all political rights in the beginning stage of "perestroika" (until October 15, 1991, when the Supreme Council of Latvia that they elected deprived them these rights within the Enactment "On the Reconstruction of the Rights of Citizens of the Republic of Latvia and Main Conditions of Naturalization").
More than one third - 31.84% - of non-citizens are those born in Latvia (in many cases two or three generations of a family). Among non-citizens 56% have been settled in Latvia for more than 20 years.
Besides denying them the rights to elect the parliament and the local authorities, there are several restrictions for non-citizens in economical, social and other spheres. Now in the level of legislation, as well as decisions of executive and local authorities, there are more than 68 such distinctions made between the rights of citizens and non-citizens (23 of which affect the right to free choice of employment). However, this negative law application practice goes on.
The Law on Latvian Citizenship which was only adopted on July 22, 1994 ignores most of the recommendations of international experts by providing that the majority of unrecognized citizens of Latvia may possibly only get a chance of naturalization in the next millennium.
Only 812 persons (0.1% of non-citizens) were naturalized into Latvian citizenship according to this Law in 1995.
Moreover, the Law has no guarantees of granting them civic rights even in the distant future. Among them 64.24% are ethnic Russians, 12.06% are Belarussians, 8.62% are Ukrainians, 3.81% are Lithuanians, 3.53% are Poles, 3.20% are Latvians and 1.19% are Jewish.
Among registered ethnic Latvians, 1.57% (22,000) are non-citizens. Other ethnic groups that are considered non-citizens and their percentage of the population are as follows: Gypsies- 9.56%, Polish - 38.35%, Estonians - 54.24%, Jews - 54.43%, Russians - 60.93%, Germans - 73.99%, Lithuanians - 78.48%, Belarussians- 79.93% and Ukrainians - 93.68%.
The Law on the Status of the Citizens of the Former USSR who are not Citizens of the Latvian Republic and Other States, adopted on April 25, 1995, does not contain any real guarantees against further increasing of discrimination.
PEOPLE WHO WHERE NOT INCLUDED IN THE REGISTER OF THE INHABITANTS OF LATVIA These people have only a so called "round stamp" in their passports and many of their rights are denied. The registration of marriage, the registration of the birth of a child, the change of a dwelling, are examples of some of those rights which are made impossible for those with only the "round stamp" -- to realize. According to special legislative norms providing definite rights only for those persons who have a personal registration code, the people with "round stamps" loose their rights on labor and social benefits.
The main reasons for refusing registration are the following: work of the civil person (or member of his family) as a civilian at the enterprise or office of the Military forces of the Soviet Union; living in the houses or apartments built by the Military forces of the Soviet Union; living in a house that has the status of a hostel; previous military service. None of these have any legislative basis.
The marks in the passports of unrecognized citizens of the Republic of Latvia, made by the Register of residents completely in accordance with law, are now being canceled on a mass scale. Hundreds of cases are being fixed when in the course of these actions the inviolability of the home is broken and the armed force is applied.
The regular attempts being made to deport unrecognized citizens (including Latvian born) abroad are contributing to the separation of families.
In the respect of the persons non-included into the Register, the most cynical violations are against the UNO and CSCE recommendations, and are in violation of the provisions of International Covenants and conventions on Human Rights ratified by Latvia
Remaking Latvia into the segregated state means that the powers that be follow the demands of radical political forces to establish the ethnically "pure" state, "Latvia for Letts", "the Lettish Latvia" where the part of the "alien" population would not exceed 25% of the total. The outwardly decorous screen is the care of the preservation of ethnical identity and the culture of the Lettish people. The role of the ideological grounds has been played by these several officially cultivated myths:
1) The uniqueness of the Latvian situation requires peculiar treatment and admits some deviation from the internationally recognized Human Rights standards. The rights of the nation (interpreted as ethnic integrity) are superior to the Human Rights.
2) The state, its bodies, institutions, law order and population have been preserved for 50 years to rise again from a deep lethargy in half a century in their former untouched, invariable perimeters. Though non-existent de facto the state were presented as if de-iure, but now makes retrospective claims to the generations of people who have been living on its territory for 50 years and in healthy logic could not notice its invisible "presence". In particular, the absent offices of the 1st Latvian Republic has been superficially ignored by focusing on entrance visas and residential permits. Hence "newcomers" of these 50 years and their descendants are "illegal immigrants" and are subject to expulsion.
3) Untrue to the internationally recognized legal definitions "the occupation" of Latvia has been lasting for a long time, even years after the state-"occupant" had perished. Hence, there appears the "right" to treat non-recognized citizens as thrown-down "occupants", as enemies defeated in the war of liberation. The President of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Guntis Ulmanis said, "The Human Rights and citizenship could not be interpreted in such a way if there were no occupation" (Diena, Oct 15, 1994).
4) The restoration of the exclusive entity of the "1940 citizens" and their descendants is a tribute to historic justice. In the name of this "retroactive" justice, it would not be a sin to apply the retroaction to the rest of inhabitants, though worsening their situation.
5) Latvia is a country of average territory and population (by European criteria) but is discussed as a "little" country with a "small" population. As a result, the real scale and the real picture is distorted and the influx of "newcomers" appears to be enormous. Therefore, "Tom Thumb" fighting with the giant has a right to play without regard for any rules.
6) The title ethnic group of Latvia - the Letts - are enunciated as the people-hosts or the people-masters. The other ones living on the territory are considered as guest peoples. Thus, the latter, if they are educated enough, keep in full the order of this host institute and do not enjoy any firm rights at another's home and endeavor not to outstay their welcome.
7) The national minorities in Latvia are defined on the basis of criteria of origin and ethnicity only. The presence of a great linguistic Russian speaking minority is not taken into account. The Russian-speakers taken regardless of the concrete ethnic group and beyond the concrete national-cultural association, are considered as "cosmopolitans".
Having denied confirmation of the citizenship for one third of the population, the Latvian state removes this contingent out of the realm of the state's protection.
Having denied recognition of former citizens of the USSR as stateless persons the Latvian state removes them out of the special protection of the International Law.
Denying recognition of the Russian-speaking entity as the linguistic minority, the Latvian state increases the language pressure and language violations.