Letter to Editor

  • 2002-08-22
On the middle

The article "Man in the middle" TBT#318 by Steven C. Johnson raises several questions. The lead paragraph states that: "One of the country's most authoritative voices on human rights, Nils Muiznieks, has for the past decade been immersed in the long and often painful struggle of creating an integrated, civil society in Latvia."

One could start by asking by what criteria and by whom has it been determined that Latvian is not a civil society? And what is meant by "creating an integrated society?" Is the manipulation of people to suit some preconceived idea consistent with free and democratic society?

The term Russian speakers is frequently used in the interview. What, exactly, is the definition of this term as used by Nils Muiznieks' organization, The Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies?

Muscovites use this term when wishing to impress their audiences by numbers. An institution which claims to specialize in human rights and ethnic matters, should, however, be aware that all of the ethnic entities living in Latvia, other than Russians, would find it offensive to be described as Russian speakers thus implying that they have lost the use of their own mother tongue as well as being in support of the aims of Russian imperialists. Is it not bordering on racism to call a Chechen, a Pole or an Ukrainian living in Latvia a Russian speaker?

Despite Latvia's very liberal citizenship laws, only about 10 percent of non-citizens have made the effort to achieve citizenship. This begs the question to Nils Muiznieks and to his Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies as well as to all other human rights institutions operating in Latvia - what has been done by those organizations to determine what are the wishes of the non-citizens of Latvia and what has been done to satisfy those wishes?

The Russian non-citizens in Latvia do not wish to accept Latvia as their Fatherland. The only solution would appear to be their migration to a Western country. One would be quite safe to suggest that this solution would be acceptable to most of the non-citizens. Latvia's government can do nothing in this matter, else being accused by Nils Muiznieks of following the decolonization policies of the Fatherland and Freedom party. It would, therefore, seem proper to expect that action would be taken by the human rights organizations themselves.