Latvia

Latvians reject Russian as second language


Published

A referendum held last Saturday has given a clear No to the idea of revising the constitution to include Russian as the second official language.

Around 70% of the electorate turned out to vote and 74.8% voted against Russian becoming the second official language of Latvia. The organisers of the referendum had wanted changes in five articles of the constitution to make the change to reflect the 35.7% of the population who are Russian speakers. Around 43.7% of the population speak Russian as their second language.

It is clear from the referendum that most Latvians want to distance themselves from Russia who they consider to have been a former occupier. The Russian speakers, however, feel that they have been discriminated against since the restoration of independence two decades ago.

The referendum is likely to widen the gap in society in the country and lead to further challenges from the Russian minority.

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