Russian political analysts to struggle for national minorities' rights in Latvia

The presentation of new books published by Evropa publishing house was held in Evropeiski Klub. Speaking at the presentation, Josef Diskin, a co-chairman of the Council for National Strategy, a political analyst and economist, proposed to set up a large-scale public coalition for the protection of national minorities in Latvia. Mr. Diskin said that having ratified the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities Latvian parliament had introduced a number of amendments into the document. The amendments effectively ban the Russian-speaking population from using rights and benefits entitled to a national minority by status.

Mr. Diskin expressed his hope that the Russian business community would support the public movement for the protection of national minorities in Latvia. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs should set an example, according to him. He believes that Russian companies should cease using Latvia's seaports for handling oil shipments. Other steps include the suspension of trade with Latvia. According to him, the Russian public would prove to be "true successors to the Victory" if they responded in an adequate way to the Latvian government's policy regarding national minorities. A correspondent of Regnum information agency asked Mr. Diskin why the calls for an economic boycott of Latvia at the end of the 1990s failed to bear any fruit.

At the time the Latvian authorities started legal action against a few members of Soviet paramilitary units which operated in Latvia during World War II. Mr. Diskin replied that only one person i.e. Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was calling for an economic boycott of Latvia back then. Nowadays the Russian public have a good chance for forming a large-scale movement centered on the issue of national minorities in Latvia.

Chairman of the National Council for International Affairs Sergei Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies, supported Mr. Diskin's proposal. Speaking to Regnum, Mr. Markov said that the movement for the protection of national minorities in Latvia should be an international event since the decisions of Latvian Parliament contradict European legal norms and regulations.

Latvian Parliament ratified the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities on May 26th. Two significant amendments were introduced into the document. First, state-run organizations are forbidden to use any other language but Latvian. Second, street names are allowed in official language only i.e. Latvian.

Russian officials including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov already criticized the decision of Latvian Parliament.

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