Banned Russian asks for minister's mercy

  • 2005-09-07
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - Alexander Kazakov, a Russian national who was expelled from Latvia a year ago for his excessive statements and actions in defense of Russian language education, has appealed to Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons to delete his name from the so-called black list,
Latvia's United Russian Congress (Okrol) stated that, in the organization's opinion, none of Kazakov's activities in Latvia had been found to be in violation of the law.

The organization said in the statement, "Now it is already officially known what exactly caused the strict reaction of Latvian authorities 's Kazakov called to form a consolidated Russian community in Latvia, supported a bicommunal state, warned about real threats of an ethnic conflict, took part in organizing protests in 2004, backed the goal not only to retain secondary education in Russian but also to grant citizenship to noncitizens and give official status to the Russian language, took steps towards opening a dialogue between the Latvian and the Russian communities."

Kazakov, an aide to Russian MP Dmitry Rogozin, was expelled from Latvia overnight on Sept. 4, 2004. His expulsion was announced in a special press briefing called by Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons, who said his patience with Kazakov had ended and Latvia could no longer tolerate someone who was inciting ethnic hatred.

At the time Kazakov was central to the massive protests against the country's education reform program, which mandated that high-school age students take more classes in Latvian in order to improve their chances at integration. The protests were largely organized by Shtab, an unregistered organization in whose operations Kazakov played a central role.

As Okrol stated, "The request submitted to the minister says that Kazakov's actions have been manifestations of the right to free expression, that other prominent people, scientists and politicians are voicing similar opinions... Unlike in a totalitarian state, in a democratic state people are allowed to express various ideas and to criticize the government."

The interior minister's spokesman, Krists Leiskalns, said the ministry has not yet received Kazakov's request.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has requested that Latvia provide an official explanation for Kazakov's expulsion.

Kazakov has said he would go the European Court of Human Rights.

Previously Kazakov had been granted a temporary residence permit because his wife lived here but she has since passed away.

A short while after the expulsion, Latvia's security police revealed Kazakov had received financial support from Russia.