Latvians reject Russian as official language | World news | guardian.co.uk
Latvian voters have resoundingly rejected a proposal to give official status to Russian, the mother tongue of their former Soviet occupiers and a large chunk of the population.
Russian is the first language for about a third of the Baltic country’s 2.1 million people, and many of them would like it to be a national language to reverse what they claim has been 20 years of discrimination.
But for ethnic Latvians the referendum was an attempt to encroach on Latvia’s independence, which was restored two decades ago after half a century of occupation by the Soviet Union since the second world war.
According to the current law anyone who moved to Latvia during the Soviet occupation, or was born to parents who moved there, is considered a non-citizen and must pass the Latvian language exam in order to be naturalised.
There are approximately 300,000 non-citizens in Latvia.