At a regular session in Geneva of the UN Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and protection of ethnic minorities, Russian delegate Sergey Berezny attacked Estonia and Latvia for denying automatic citizenship to their "Russian-speaking populations." This policy "aims to eliminate the consequences of the natural labor migration which took place in the former USSR," Berezny maintained. (Itar-Tass, August 24). Berezny was speaking in Geneva on the anniversary of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact (August 23, 1939) which led to the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.
During the Soviet era, it was Moscow’s policy to dilute the native populations of non-Russian "republics" by exporting Russian settlers. Estonia and Latvia were among the most heavily affected.
Last week, the Latvian parliament adopted a declaration on the Soviet occupation, noting inter alia that Moscow had "sent hundreds of thousands of settlers into Latvia in an effort to destroy its national identity. As a result of this policy the share of Latvians in the country’s population dropped from 77 to 52 percent." The declaration also expressed concern — as has Estonia’s government — that Russia continues to recognize the fact of the Soviet occupation. Russian statements such as the one just made in Geneva inevitably reinforce that concern.
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