Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 125

At a congress just held in Riga, the People’s Harmony Party approved a controversial decision to join with the Russian Party, the Socialist Party and the Ravnopravie (Equality) Movement in a political bloc. Labeled “For the Human Right to Live in a United Latvia,” the bloc will contest the parliamentary elections due in October. (BNS, June 29)

People’s Harmony Party leader Janis Jurkans seems slated to figure as the nominal standard bearer of the coalition. A former foreign minister, Jurkans takes the position that Latvia must defer to Russian interests to a certain extent, short of sacrificing its own core interests. He argues that the current tension in Russian-Latvian relations vindicates his position. The party’s electorate is left-of-center, ethnically mixed and subject to erosion on all sides. Jurkans has responded to the external and intra-party situations by veering toward an alliance with leftist Russian forces.

The Socialist Party is the successor to the banned Communist Party. Ravnopravie is the successor to the Interfront, the organization created during the final years of Soviet rule in opposition to the Latvian independence movement. The SP’s and Ravnopravie’s following is Russian/”Russian-speaking” and opposes Latvia’s citizenship and language laws. Both organizations oppose Latvia’s accession to NATO. They support Russia’s offer of a security pact with Latvia and the other two Baltic states. Their current representation in parliament is minimal, but could increase substantially if a large part of the non-citizen population is quickly enfranchised. This factor partly explains Moscow’s pressure for mass-naturalization ahead of the October elections. The bloc For the Human Right to Live in a United Latvia has filed for legal registration in preparation for the elections. (BNS, June 29)