RIGA - A member of the Russian State Duma has proposed imposing sanctions against Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony) for his failure to resist the Latvian government’s plan to gradually introduce Latvian as the only language of instruction in all public schools, including Latvia’s Russian schools.
The idea was proposed as the State Duma committee for the CIS and Russian diaspora discussed Latvia’s reform plans in education, specifically, the planned transition to education only in Latvian. Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, one of the leaders of the Russian Union of Latvia, was also present at the meeting. He later told LETA that the meeting of the Duma committee dealt with various issues, including Latvia’s Russian schools.
Mitrofanovs explained that he participated in the meeting as a guest because he has established friendly contacts with certain Russian lawmakers. It was argued during the meeting that the current situation with Latvia’s Russian schools is more complicated as compared to the referendum on the status of the Russian language in Latvia. At that time, the calls for making Russian an official language in Latvia received broader support, but now Usakovs has refused to back protests against the language reform, Mitrofanovs said.
Pavel Shperov, a Duma member of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, came up with the idea to impose individual sanctions against politicians who violate Russian speakers’ rights, including Usakovs.
Usakovs told LETA that it was hard for him to understand people who complain about Latvia’s problems to other countries’ parliamentarians. If you are struggling for something in Latvia, you should try to persuade Latvian lawmakers of your ideas, Usakovs believes.
“You are a Latvian politician, so talk to your Latvian colleagues and residents of Latvia,” Usakovs said. It is hard for me to comment on the proposal of one particular MP of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, Usakovs said.
The Russian Liberal Democratic Party is led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky.