Some 300 young Russians rallied yesterday under red flags in downtown Riga at the call of the Socialist Party’s youth wing. The main slogans included: –“Official status for the Russian language in Latvia” –“We are not an ethnic minority, we are half the country” –“Away with the language of genocide.”
Speakers protested against a “strengthening of the position of the Latvian language” in general, and against a draft education law which would introduce Latvian-language instruction in Russian-language schools. (Russian agencies, May 14) The Russian youth rally is a new phenomenon. Until now, Russian rallies in Latvia have involved primarily pensioners and middle-age Russians. The Socialist Party (successor to the Communist Party) and its ally Ravnopravie (successor to the Interfront) hope to turn Latvia into a bi-national, Latvian-Russian state (see the Monitor, May 4).
This also seems to be the goal implicit in the Russian government’s “informal” proposals conveyed to Riga on May 13 through Ole Espersen, the human rights commissioner of the Council of Baltic Sea Countries. These proposals include: automatic grant of citizenship Russian residents in Latvia, without the language and constitution tests; changing the education law and language law (which protect the Latvian language); and allowing Russians in Latvia to “unify families” by bringing in relatives from Russia. Moscow does not insist on immediate implementation; it would accept a “gradual” one. (BNS, Radio Riga, May 13)
CASPIAN OIL CORRIDOR DEFINED AS UKRAINE’S “NATIONAL PRIORITY”.