Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for the ‘Latvia’ Category

Latvia: Ethnic Russians Won The Largest Number Of Votes In Parliamentary Elections

Posted by Info on 07/10/2014

October 5 : The Harmony party, suported mainly by ethnic Russians and led by the mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov, won 23% of the votes in the elections, while the coalition of three current ruling parties had 56% between them.

The results will give Harmony 25 seats in Latvia’s 100-seat parliament, six fewer than before when they were also the largest single party in parliament. Other parties were reluctant to enter a coalition with what is seen as the “Russian party”.

A third of Latvia’s population is Russian-speaking, but about 290,000 are “non-citizens” of the country (14% of the population), holding special passports that bar them from voting and hold any public office. They have the right to a non-citizen passport issued by the Latvian government as well as other specific rights. Outside the EU, numerous countries allow visa-free travel for Latvian citizens but not for non-citizens.

In order to become citizens, they have to take an exam on Latvian culture and history. Latvian authorities say is necessary given the history of Soviet occupation and forced Russification policies of the past.

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Two Decades Since USSR Broke Up. What Happened To Soviet Countries?

Posted by Info on 23/10/2011

Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.


Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.

Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.

A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.

Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Latvia Election Leads To Poll Success For Pro-Russia Party

Posted by Info on 17/09/2011

A pro-Russia party could emerge big winner in Latvia’s snap election today.In the past 20 years since Latvian independence no party catering to ethnic Russians – who make up approximately one-third of Latvia’s 2.2 million people – has had a role in national government.

Polls show that the leftist Harmony Centre now controls 29 opposition seats in the 100-member parliament.
Harmony Centre politicians refuse to acknowledge that Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union for a half-century after the second world war. Usakovs has admitted that the Baltic states – Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania – were only “illegally incorporated”.

To circumvent the delicate subject, Usakovs, the first ethnic Russian mayor of Riga, Latvia’s capital, has proposed a three-year ban on discussing history – or until the next general election in 2014. Prime minister Dombrovskis, however, has rejected the idea and insisted that Harmony recognize Latvia’s occupation before it can enter government.

Saturday’s vote is extraordinary, coming less than one year after a scheduled election that was regarded as a show of support for the current leadership, which has struggled to rescue Latvia from deep recession.

Unemployment remains stubbornly high – 16.2%, – and tens of thousands of people have left the country to find jobs elsewhere.
A recent poll conducted by Latvijas Fakti for the Baltic News Service shows that nearly 21% of voters are prepared to cast their ballots for Harmony Center.

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Russia/Latvia: Ruling on Kononov Hurts Prestige of Strasbourg Court

Posted by Info on 20/08/2011

The Grand Chamber of the European Court for Human Rights cancelled the original verdict against Great Patriotic War veteran Vassili Kononov. This is a dangerous precedent that can be used by those who wish to re-write history and destroy the post-war system based on the decisions by the Nuremburg Tribunal.
Russia believes that the verdict in favour of Latvia is extremely politicized.

89-year-old Vassili Kononov died late March pending the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights. In the early 2000s, Latvia accused the veteran of committing war crimes and killing civilians on its territory during the Great Patriotic War when he was a commander of a partisan unit. A court in Riga sentenced the retired man to 6 years and later, to 12 years in prison. However, in 2008, the European Court of Human Rights overturned the Latvian court ruling and obliged the Latvian authorities to pay 30 thousand Euros as moral compensation. However, Latvia lodged an appeal against the judgment at the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Latvians Called To Combat Power Of Oligarch Businessmen – Country “Ruled By Lies”

Posted by Info on 25/07/2011

Latvians have overwhelmingly with 94.8 per cent voted in favour of dissolving parliament in a referendum called to combat the power of oligarch businessmen, early results of the poll showed.
It was the first such referendum since the Baltic country of 2.2 million people broke away from the Soviet Union 20 years ago.The referendum was called for in May when former President Valdis Zatlers used his presidential power to dissolve the parliament – a decision that must be supported by a majority of voters.

Zatlers was angered that MPs had blocked an anti-corruption probe involving top legislators and businessmen.The following week, Zatlers lost his re-election bid when legislators – who in Latvia elect the president every four years – opted for challenger Andris Berzins, a millionaire lawmaker.
Zlaters hammered home his message on the eve of the referendum, saying: “I got fed up of living in a country ruled by lies, cynicism and greed”.

Many Latvians share Zatlers’ concerns that wealthy businessmen-politicians, or oligarchs, have too much influence in politics through their personal and business links with legislators, or by getting into the parliament themselves.

In December 2008 the European Union and the International Monetary Fund stepped in to rescue the country from bankruptcy, but the aid did little to alleviate widespread discontent as the government slashed spending and raised taxes.Unemployment eventually reached nearly 25 per cent, and tens of thousands of people left the country to find work in Sweden, Britain and Ireland.

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EU Passes Belarus New Sanctions – Anger Is Growing

Posted by Info on 23/06/2011

The European Union passed a series of stringent sanctions against Belarus amid growing anger from the international community.
Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed to a series of new sanctions against the regime, placing travel bans on key members of the judiciary and bringing in restrictions on three companies closely associated with Mr Lukashenko.

The opposition to widespread sanctions came from Italy and Latvia, two countries with substantial business interests in Belarus. In the end, however, diplomats opted for the fullest set if sanctions that were available to them.

It is now forbidden for any European country to trade with BelTechExport, the country’s main arms manufacturer, as well as Sport Pari, which runs the country’s lucrative lottery, and Private Unitary Enterprise a telecommunications company.

Western diplomats say Belarus earns more than £1.14bn annually in weapons sales, much of which goes into a secret fund controlled by the President. The vast majority of Belarusian arms sales, however, are to the developing world and it is unclear whether the new sanctions will have any effect on Mr Lukashenko’s ability to raise capital.

A number of officials behind the recent trials of pro-democracy activists have also been added to a travel ban list including Andrey Kazheunikau and Kiril Chubkavets, two public prosecutors who have brought cases against a number of anti-Lukashenko presidential candidates.
Liudmila Grachova, a judge who recently sentenced former presidential candidates Nikolai Statkevich and Dmitiri Uss, has also been handed a travel ban alongside Vladimir Peftiev, the country’s second richest man and a key economic advisor to Mr Lukashenko.More than one hundred officials and allies of the Belarusian president are already on the travel list.

Last week Belarus went to Russia and the International Monetary Fund to ask for a rescue loan of billions of dollars to help stave off a growing financial crisis. Both Russia and the IMF have called for large scale privatization of Belarusian state assets as a central part of any bailout arrangement. At the same time anger is growing in Moscow over the arrest of a number of Russian journalists inside Belarus.

Posted in Belarus, EU, Latvia, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Latvia Refuses UN Recommendation On Abolition Of Status Of “Non-Citizen”

Posted by Info on 11/05/2011

The UN Human Rights Council adopted on May 9 a series of 122 recommendations to Latvia under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), asking the Baltic country to undertake reforms in such areas as human rights, non-citizenship, discrimination of ethnic minorities, human trafficking, gender inequality and prison conditions.
Latvia agreed with 71 recommendations, but rejected proposal to abolish the status of “non-citizen”.

The Latvian parliament created the category of “non-citizen” in 1991 and it largely applies to Russians who moved to then socialist republic during the Soviet era.

The Baltic state, with a population of 2.3 million, currently has around 350,000 people without citizenship. Non-citizens are not considered stateless persons under Latvian law but lack full rights, with the main restriction depriving “non-citizens” of the right to vote.
Estonia also has several thousands “non-citizens.”

Posted in Estonia, Latvia, Russia, UN | Leave a Comment »

Latvia: Violations Of Most Political Rights For 365 000 Persons

Posted by Info on 08/03/2011

Over 2.3 million people live in Latvia; out of the total, 365,000 have no Latvian citizenship. Following Latvia’s cessation from the Soviet Union in 1991, they were deprived of most political rights, including the right to vote at municipal and general elections as well as at elections to the European Parliament.

Latvia collecting signatures for making Russian second official tongue
The collection of notarially certified signatures was organised so as to launch later a nation-wide referendum on this question. Organisers are sure that 10,000 signatures, necessary for a referendum, will be collected within three months.
The action was backed by the party For Human Rights in United Latvia that represented in opposition the interests of Russian-speaking residents for many years, but failed to win parliamentary seats at the last elections in October 2010.

The action “For mother tongue” was a response to the opposition nationalist association Fatherland and Freedom (All for Latvia). The latter organised a collection of notarially certified signatures of the country’s citizens for switching over Russian schools (financed by the state) to Latvian language education.

Latvian nationalists recently announced that they had collected 10,000 signatures necessary for a referendum.

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Human Rights Issues Should Not Be Used For Political Pressure – Lavrov

Posted by Info on 01/03/2011

We can not allow the politicization of human rights issues or its use as a tool for political pressure, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Attempts to divide states into good and bad, into students and examiners and to dissolve the interstate nature of the Council are counterproductive and can only damage multilateral cooperation.

Lavrov believes that the Human Rights Council should not elude difficult topics.

Lavrov added that the task to ensure the rights of national minorities needs particular attention “especially in the context of such shameful phenomenon as the chronic problem of statelessness in Latvia and Estonia.”
There are currently 350,000 non-citizens living in Latvia, which is 15.5% of the country’s population. In Estonia the figure consists 9% of the population, or 105,000 people.

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EU Urges Easing Citizenship For Latvian Russians – 15 % Non Citizens

Posted by Info on 16/02/2011

The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebaek has urged the Latvian authorities to simplify the naturalization exam for Russian speaking non-citizens who apply for Latvian citizenship.

In comparison with the mid 1990s the number of non-citizens in the country has reduced twofold. Nevertheless non-citizens still account for 14% of the country’s population.

Latvia has population of about 2.3 million people including 345,000 non-citizens, most of whom are mainly Russian speakers.

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Wikileaks: USA Disappointed With Finland,Latvia, Estonia and Ferry Gaps – No Terrorist Messures

Posted by Info on 14/02/2011

Wikileaks: US embassy diplomatic cables show that in 2005 the United States was particularly annoyed by the Finnish view that a terrorist attack could not happen in Finland.
Because of the Finnish thinking of being safely isolated, US diplomats even felt that Finland was slow in joining in the battle against terrorism. Examples given were that maritime travellers and freight were not being properly inspected.

Although the Finns appear to meet IMO maritime security requirements, they do little or no screening of ferry passengers. Given the large number of ferry vessels plying the waters from Finland to Sweden, Estonia, Russia, Latvia, and Germany, this gap needs to be closed, and the USG may be able to help. Moreover, although cargo is subject to check, in practice very little inspection is done.

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500,000 Russians in Latvia and Estonia Deprived Of Political, Social Rights

Posted by Info on 02/02/2011

Some 500,000 Russians living in Latvia and Estonia have been deprived of political and social rights as they have no citizenship, a statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry says.

According to the paper the situation is exacerbated by a lack of involvement from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Moscow expressed its bewilderment with the Agency’s report which focuses on the forthcoming Estonian elections saying nothing about Russian-speaking residents who have no right to vote.

Posted in Estonia, Latvia, others, Russia | 1 Comment »

UN Human Rights Committee at its 100th Session

Posted by Info on 26/01/2011

Final decisions are provided in the original languages. All other versions should soon be posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in English, French and Spanish , and available through the Treaty body document search to be found at the following url :

Views with finding(s) of violation : (complaint v. Belarus) (complaint v. Belarus) (complaint v. Belarus) (complaint v. Uzbekistan) (complaint v. Turkmenistan) (complaint v. Latvia) (complaint v. Azerbaijan)

Posted in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Latvian Foreign Ministry Eases Visa Regime For Belarus

Posted by Info on 23/01/2011

regardless of the sanctions against Minsk which are being considered by the EU.From January 24 the Belarusian nationals requesting for long-term visas in Latvia and Belarus will not pay state duties to get a visa.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for immediate sanctions against the leaders of Belarus over the response to the opposition protests that followed the December 19 presidential election. The foreign ministers of the European Union’s 27 states are expected to reach a final decision on any sanctions when they hold their first meeting of the year on January 31 in Brussels.

The resolution calls on the European Council to impose a ban on visas and freeze any EU bank accounts of senior government officials and members of the judiciary and security agencies responsible for rigging the elections and persecuting the opposition.

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Latvia’s New Law: Enter To Schengen Zone Throught Investment in Latvia

Posted by Info on 23/01/2011

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said said that when making the decision about residence permit the Latvian authorities are guided solely by law that did not automatically grant a residence permit to any foreigner who has made large investments in Latvia.
“We adopted a law last year that provides for issuing a residence permit in event of investment, for example, in bank capital or enterprises or real estate [in Latvia].This system has proved somewhat successful, and we can see that potential investors come and receive residence permits…and to use Latvia for travelling across the Schengen zone. “

According to the amendments to immigration legislation, which are in effect since July 1, 2010, a foreign investor may get a five-year residence permit in Latvia, if he has purchased immovable property there to the sum ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 lat (from 93,000 to 187,000 dollars), or if he invests no less than 25,000 lat (some 47,000 dollars) in the fixed assets of an enterprise registered in Latvia, which will pay to the central or local budget no less than 20,000 lat (37,000 dollars), or if he invests 200,000 lat in the subordinated capital of a bank.

However the former Moscow mayor Luzhkov had invested the needed 200,000 lat (some 375,000 U.S. dollars) in Latvia, in Rietumu Bank, one of the Latvian commercial banks and even owns real estate – a storehouse — in the resort city of Jurmala, he was denied the residence permit. In the opinion of the Interior Minister, “the ex-mayor does not deserve it because of his attitude to Latvia.” …his hostile statements about the country and his intention to use it for personal goals, as it is evident that his target was not to invest (any more?) in the country and its economy, but to use Latvia for travelling across the Schengen zone”

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