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Protesters to rally for Russian language education in Latvia

  • 2014-02-04
  • From wire reports, RIGA

Up to 100 people have rallied in Riga for Russian language education (photo: Tor Bernhard Slaathaug for The Baltic Times)

Over 100 protesters have rallied in Riga in support of Russian language education in schools.

Demonstrators protested against Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma's recent statement that Latvia will switch to state-funded education exclusively in Latvian "sooner or later."

The coalition's agreement stipulates that state-funded minority schools will have to switch to education in Latvian on September 1, 2018, except for the respective minority's language classes and ethnic culture subjects.

Protesters held up several placards that said, "Minority Schools - Latvia's Treasure!", "Straujuma, Leave The Kids Alone!", "Our Taxes To Schools!" and others, as well as shouting, in Russian, "Hands off Russian schools!" outside the Cabinet of Minister building on Jan. 4.

One of the organizers of the rally, Miroslavs Mitrofanovs told reporters that if no compromise was reached, larger protests would be organized. He believes that the current education system in minority schools needs to be improved, whereas pending reforms will only do harm.

Mitrofanovs said there should be younger and better trained Latvian language teachers in Russian schools.

Rally organizers claim the plans do not promote peace and harmony in Latvian society.

Latvian Minister of Education and Science Ina Druviete addressed protesters before a Cabinet meeting, reports LETA.

She told demonstrators that change would be gradual and students would still be able to learn their native language and attend culture classes. She said that an optimum result would be arrived at through discussions, and that all the changes would proceed gradually.

Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said his country were considering opening specialist Russian schools in the Baltic countries. His comments stirred controversy in the Baltics with some calling the plans 'unacceptable.'

What do you think? Should Russian be taught in schools in the Baltics or should schools switch to Latvian "sooner or later" Let us know with your comments

Watch a video of the protests here: