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Russian Minority in Latvia. UW-Eau Claire Geography 308 Prof. Zoltan Grossman. Wesley A. Sherry Spring 2005 C.E. Locale. Latitude: 57°00’ N Longitude: 25°00’ E . Irbe Strait. Gulf of Riga. Baltic Sea. Statistical Information. Population: 2,306,306 Total Area: 64,589 sq km

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Russian minority in latvia l.jpg

Russian Minority in Latvia

UW-Eau Claire

Geography 308

Prof. Zoltan Grossman

Wesley A. Sherry

Spring 2005 C.E.


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Locale

Latitude:57°00’ N Longitude:25°00’ E


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Irbe Strait

Gulf of Riga

Baltic Sea


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Statistical Information

Population: 2,306,306

Total Area: 64,589 sq km

Religions: Lutheran

Roman Catholic

Russian Orthodox

Languages:

Latvian Official Language

Russian Spoken by Many

Government: Parliamentary Democracy


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Historic Foreign Occupations

  • FeudalGermans c. 1200 CE

    - Dominated by traders and Teutonic Knight landlords.

    - Founded the city of Riga.

    - Introduced Christianity.

    - Exploited Latvia’s land, labor, and resources.

  • Poland and Sweden c. 1560 CE

    - Both powers battle each other over the Baltics.

  • ImperialRussia 1710 CE

    - Latvia falls under the control of the Czar.


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Independence

  • 1920, Latvia wins its independence after the Russian Revolution.

  • The fledgling government leans more towards the west when looking for a model to follow.

  • Though short lived, the young republic prospers as a major exporter of agricultural goods.


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Re-annexation

  • 1939, the Soviet Union, through a treaty with Nazi Germany, occupied Latvia along with the other Baltic states and half of Poland.

  • 1940 and 1944, Latvia is annexed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

  • The Soviet Union industrializes the mostly agrarian society of Latvia.

Latvian S.S.R.


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Independence Redux

  • August 21, 1991, Latvia is recognized as an independent state following the break-up of the Soviet Union.


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EU & NATO

  • Latvia joins NATO March 29, 2004.

  • Latvia joins the EU May 1, 2004.


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Russian Minority

  • Latvia contains a large Russian minority.

    • 33.8% Nationwide

    • 51% in Riga, the capital

  • Latvians fear their big next-door neighbor and the possibility of irredentism.

    - These fears are not totally unjustified when Russia’s history of aggression is considered.

  • Latvians suppress most of the Russian minority by labeling them as non-citizens.


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Russian “Non-Citizens”

  • During the Soviet era, the Latvian S.S.R. had a higher standard of living than the rest of the union many Russians, including retired military officers migrated to there. However, some Russians settled there before annexation.

  • All ethnic Russians that moved to Latvia during Soviet occupation, or were born of them, have been considered non-citizens.

  • Many have not had the right to vote or hold political office.

  • Their status can be similarly compared to those of undocumented immigrants in America.


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What’s the Problem?

Employment of non-Latvians in Latvian SSR in 1987

PRESTIGIOUS OCCUPATIONS:Secretaries of Communist Party of Latvia 20%

Ministers and chairmen of state committees 17%

Personnel of city and district Party committee 34.8%

Personnel of the Council of Ministers 35%

Heads of local authorities 23%

Cultural sphere and arts 26.4%

Education 46.6%

NON-PRESTIGIOUS OCCUPATIONS:Industry and construction 61.9%

Transport 66.2%

Communal and public services 54.7%

  • The Latvian government has severely disadvantaged this section of its populace.

  • Russians, like the Latvians, were just trying to make the best of the Soviet era.

  • Therefore, anger towards Russians as an ethnic group is mostly unjustified.

  • So why not just become a full citizen of Latvia through naturalization?

Table Interpretation

The table shows that Latvians held the majority of the prestigious professions, while the non-Latvians, mostly Russians, worked more of the “blue collar” jobs. This means that Latvians have less ground to stand on to argue that Russians came in and subjugated them.


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Naturalization Process

  • Requirements to become a naturalized citizen of Latvia:

    - Five years residency in country as of May 4, 1990

    - Legal source of income

    - Command of the Latvian language

    - Recitation of the national anthem

    - Rudimentary knowledge of Latvian history

    * Recognition that Latvia was occupied, not liberated, by the Soviet Union is mandatory

  • These tests prove to be difficult for those, especially of the older population, who can’t or won’t conform to the demands of the government, or learn a new language.


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Language Barriers

  • The Latvian Parliament passed into law that 60% of all subjects must be taught in Latvian.

    - This creates a good deal of strain upon Russian students that know little or no Latvian.

  • By law, anyone running for any political position must be near perfectly fluent in Latvian to be eligible for a spot on the ballot.

    - As expected, this angers those that are ineligible since Latvia is a democracy.

?

Latvian


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Hope?

  • Congressmen Kucinich and Shimkus called for a Russian apology for the illegal occupation of the Baltic states.

    - If Russia apologizes, it may alleviate some of the grievances that Latvia has against its Russian minorties.

  • As the EU consolidates its power and finds a firmer base to stand on, it will hopefully aid in resolving these issues.

  • As in most cases, the best way to resolve the situation would be to just bury the hatchet.


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Questions? Comments?


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Sources

  • The Sunday Herald Online

    http://www.sundayherald.com/48313

  • Mosnews.com

    http://www.mosnews.com/news/2005/04/14/congressbaltics.shtml

    http://www.mosnews.com/news/2004/05/20/latvia.shtml

  • Google Image Search

    http://images.google.com/

  • CIA: World Factbook

    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/lg.html

  • Human Rights Watch

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/1995/WR95/HELSINKI-11.htm

  • Minelres

    http://www.minelres.lv/count/non_cit-rights_1.htm


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