Day 5 - 1.12.2014 - 20:11 - Discrimination -

Choices of voices in Latvia: What is better/worse in your country than in Europe?


Day 4 - 30.11.2014 - 18:53 - Discrimination -

GenSep Report: “Non-Citizens” in Latvia

By CHRISTOPH WAGNER

Sooner or later the problem of “non-citizens” will solve itself. Until then, it seems, the EU stands back.

In the beginning of this year there were still 253.640 non-citizens in Latvia. From originally 700.000. They live in Latvia but don’t have a Latvian or any other citizenship. In the past 23 years, the number has decreased greatly. But it is not primarily because of the naturalization test that stateless people are allowed to take in order to get the citizenship. Instead, most of them have died in the past years.

Many people in Riga believe that the government is just waiting for the problem to disappear However, politicians underline that they want to complete this process as quickly as possible. “We cannot force the non-citizens to apply for the test and get a Latvian citizenship,” says Rihards Kols (29) of the co-ruling right-wing party “National Alliance”. He ruled out that the test will get “simplified” or that citizenships would be “given away like candy”.

Latvia-aliens-identity-card
Official sample of a Latvian “Aliens Identity Card”

During the accession negotiations with the EU, the non-citizens-issue was a big topic. In 2004, the EU contributed money for language and history courses. It worked out great – the naturalization-rate of the Russian minority increased significantly from 2004 to 2006. After that, the EU-Commission backed down. From now on it is an internal Latvian-problem, they say. As a result, since 2008, there were only a few thousand people per year who passed the naturalization-test – last year only around 1500.

But at least something got better: since this year non-citizens may register their children as Latvian citizens. As long as they are younger than 14 years old. They have just to fill in a form. If the situation continues like this, in a few decades it is pretty likely that there will be no more non-citizens. Nonetheless, it is far more than a bizarre game of patience.


Day 4 - 30.11.2014 - 13:59 - Hungary -

we jumped to our next destination — #hungary. our first story here starts now! #gensep #Discrimination http://t.co/Qoe6Vfjwf9
via http://twitter.com/ChristophWgnr


Day 3 - 29.11.2014 - 20:10 - Latvia -

RT @berlindkr: We arrived in #Warsaw and are now cutting our GenZapp Show! Looking forward – but not for sleep #gensep #latvia http://t.co/l39rr5Yvkn via http://twitter.com/broemse


Day 3 - 29.11.2014 - 19:47 - Latvia -

RT @berlindkr: We arrived in #Warsaw and are now cutting our GenZapp Show! Looking forward – but not for sleep #gensep #latvia http://t.co/l39rr5Yvkn
via http://twitter.com/ChristophWgnr


Day 3 - 29.11.2014 - 17:00 - Discrimination -

GenSep Report: “I am not a guest, I am a citizen of this country”

By CHRISTOPH WAGNER, DANIEL KRÜGER, JULIA BRÖMSE

The family of Margarita Dragile lives in Latvia for more than 100 years. From an ethnic point of view she comes from Russia – just like one quarter of the Latvian population. A parallel society?

Margarita Dragile strikes up the conversation quite extraordinary. Before answering the first question she says: „I want to clarify that I am not a guest in this country. I am a citizen of this country. All my ancestors were born here.“ In contrast to the 250 000 non-citizens, Margarita is agitating for, she is not a non-citizen. She has got a Latvian passport and for this reason she has got the same rights just like every other Latvian citizen. However she appeals as if she’s feeling as a foreigner.

 

IMG_4680

Margaritas Grand-Grand-Dad (r.) 1930 in Riga. Photo: private

 

Latvia has got the largest population of Russian speaking inhabitants in the world. 26 percent of the Latvians are Russians. During the occupation of the soviet union Latvia experienced a Russification. Nowadays Riga, Latvias capital, speaks half Latvian, half Russian, even though the Russian language had been refused becoming the second official language. Although this problem doesn’t affect Riga as much as other regions in Latvia, integration however has not been completely successfull, says Margarita. She gets involved with the Russian speaking youth organizing social projects.

 

 

Irrespective of the non-citizen issue, it seems that the ethnic barriers are still not blurred. In some situations the population lives in parallel instead of in common. The children often go to different schools, watch different TV broadcasts. And even in politics it seems that it’s not about national, social democratic or liberal attitudes but only about: Latvian or Russian.

The current governement wants to beware the latvian tradition and culture. Margarita Dragile holds the view that this circumstance will divide the society even more: ‘Since I am allowed to vote, the situation has become worse and worse. If non-citizens would have the right to vote, this coalition probably wouldn’t exist.’