As you know, recently a similar law on the liquidation of Russian schools was adopted in Ukraine, which is hardly a coincidence. However, in Latvia, the decision regarding a “non-state language” in schools was not unexpected: one can say that everything went for it. Even when the current government of Maris Kuczinskis (Union of Greens and Peasants) only came to power at the beginning of 2016, it promised to develop a plan for transition to a unified standard of education in the Latvian language in all state and municipal schools - and begin its implementation.
Karlis Šadurskis (“Unity”) took the post of Minister of Education in the government of Kuchinskis - the same one that already tried to do away with the Russian schools during the sadly memorable “reform” of the year.
However, in 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers did not force the fulfillment of these promises. It is unlikely that Kuchinskis, known as a sufficiently sober-minded politician, would like to strengthen inter-ethnic confrontation. But in this case he turned out to be a hostage to the situation: the prime minister could not say a decisive “no” to the attempts of de-Russification, since he was very dependent on coalition radicals from the National Bloc.
Therefore, the government of Kuchinskis struggled with Russian education, but gradually, as they say, an hour in a teaspoon. Last summer, Russian schoolchildren (we recall that Russian-speaking people in the country make up more than 30% of the population) were forbidden to choose the language of exams - now they are allowed to pass only in Latvian. In addition, teachers of national minority schools have to reckon with the existence of a law passed last autumn, which allows them to remove from their work those teachers who are recognized as “disloyal”. However, this was not enough for the nationalists, and the leader of the National Bloc, Raivis Dzintars, raised the question of the liquidation of Russian schools. According to him, the National Bloc has developed amendments to the law on education, which will not allow rejecting the idea of the final Latvianization of Russian schools. However, with the submission of these amendments, the radicals were ahead - Shadurskis announced that from the 2020 / 2021 school year all general education subjects in secondary schools in Latvia are planned to be taught only in Latvian. The Minister announced: “A necessary prerequisite for an integrated society is a common information space. Back in 2004, the principle of bilingual education was established in Latvia. However, despite the rather positive results of this system, twenty-two percent of the national minority youth still do not know the Latvian language very well or do not speak it at all. Every young man is important to us. We cannot afford to leave someone out of sight. ”
These proposals were supported by the coalition parties, as was to be expected, and the final point was put by President Raymond Vejonis. In society, he acquired the image of a “liberal”, but on the issue of schools he turned out to be completely in solidarity with the nationalists - with the only reservation that one had to carefully prepare for the expulsion of the Russian language in order to avoid unnecessary problems. “In Latvia there is only one state language - Latvian. And if the ministry proposes to gradually switch to education in Latvian, this is a step towards ensuring that the country has only one state language that would be used by residents of Latvia in everyday communication, ”said Vejonis. Naturally, the most active representatives of the Russian community refused to tolerate another attack on their rights.
The action in 2003 – 2004 was recreated. The headquarters for the protection of Russian schools - and October 23, he spent in Riga, next to the building of the Ministry of Education, his first action. Despite the cold, up to 1000 people from Riga, Daugavpils, Rezekne, Saldus and Aizkraukle took part in the rally.
Alas, there were few young people - more people were present. Many participants in the picket were holding posters with the words "Karlis is not a badgeon, a badgeon will burst" and "I am Latvia". ” The event was hosted by Miroslav Mitrofanov, co-chairman of the non-system party "Russian Union of Latvia". He made a speech: “The first attempt of right-wing Latvian politicians to strangle Russian schools occurred in 2003 – 2004. Then, as a result of the protests, we managed to defend the Russian language as one of the teaching languages in schools. Yes, not fully succeeded, but only half. But for more than thirteen years, the native language continued to sound in schools, and we could treat ourselves with respect - we are the people, we have honor and dignity and we are able to fight for our rights! ”
However, the authorities, as Mitrofanov recalled, did not want to take into account the interests of the Russian inhabitants. “It is planned to completely expel the Russian language from secondary school, to leave several subjects in the main one: obviously, the Russian language and literature itself, and to significantly Latvianize Russian kindergartens. If the laws on education are open to the changes proposed by the ministry, then we can expect any even more cruel and insane proposals from the nationalist deputies, ”the co-chairman of the Russian Union of Latvia stressed. It is worth noting that, apart from MEPs Tatyana Zhdanok and Andrey Mamykin, there was not a single deputy at the rally. The attendees waited until the last moment to see the mayor of Riga, Neil Ushakov, hoping that he would support the defenders of Russian schools with his authority. But they did not wait. Publicist Ilya Kozyrev sarcastically remarked on this issue: “Ushakov did not appear, although such rumors circulated. Apparently, the tile in Kengarags (district of Riga) shifts. It is more important, of course. "
In fact, this is not an idle question, because Ushakov heads the “Consent” - not just the largest opposition party, but the party with the largest parliamentary faction. "Consent" rests mainly on the votes of Russian-speaking voters - and at one time did everything possible to "trample" the Russian electoral clearing, displacing all competitors from it.
For many years, Ushakov and his comrades have been dreaming of breaking through into the ruling coalition, of gaining access to ministerial posts and the state budget. They clearly do not want to quarrel with the ruling nationalist parties for the sake of Russian schools.
However, “hitting” on the Russian community turned out to be so serious that it was necessary to react to it somehow. And Ushakov left an entry on Facebook: “Shadurskis in a year (next parliamentary elections will be held in Latvia in the fall of 2018) will no longer be a minister, since his Unity party (rapidly losing popularity) will finally go into non-existence. But now he and the nationalists need as much noise and scandals as possible. After all, they plan to close not "Russian" schools. In the coming years they are planning to close Latvian schools in the provinces en masse, thus finally putting an end to dozens of localities in Latvia. After all, everything is clear to everyone - closing the school is the very last step. And in order to divert attention from these plans, we are all once again trying to poison us on a national basis. For my part, I can assure you that we will not allow such a development of events. And we will equally protect Latvian schools and Russians from shadurskis. And protect.
Ushakov's statement looks rather sly. First, the departure of Shadurskis and Unity will not remove the problem - the elimination of Russian education is the cumulative goal of all Latvian parties, they have been approaching it for a quarter of a century. Secondly, it is embarrassing to promise to protect from closure “both Latvian schools and Russians”. This is true, in recent years, educational institutions in Latvia have been closed by the dozens: the continuing outflow of the population abroad has an effect. People didn’t want to evaluate how Latvian politicians express themselves lavishly, “history Latvia’s success ”, and massively move to more prosperous states. Accordingly, the schools that have lost their students can only be closed. But why Ushakov does not speak about the protection of the Russian language in the remaining minority schools? To this, supporters of the “Consent” demagogically answer that they, they say, do not divide the people of Latvia into “their own” and “alien”. Well, it may soon be easy for them to “agree” with the fact that the people of Latvia should still be culturally and linguistically uniform. What kind of Russian protection is this when big money is at stake?
Not long ago, parliamentarian Janis Urbanovich (the second, after Ushakov, face in the “Consent”) voiced “excuse”. It turns out ... there are few violent ones, but “Consent” itself is not the first to get involved in a fight for Russian schools. The politician believes that it is still possible to overcome the current trend. “Yes, only in one way: if the people show that they don’t like it, then the average Latvian will think that it makes sense to stop, otherwise they will start to fight,” said the deputy.
Recalling that at the beginning of 2000's, thousands of people went to rally in support of Russian schools for 50, Urbanovich suggested that "according to current laws and 500 people will no longer gather ...".
He added: “There is a myth that the Finns, for example, demonstrated at one time the state mind and gave the Swedes the right to learn the native language. But in fact, for this right the Swedish boys fought with Finnish in different places - from Helsinki to the provinces. Out of kindness, no one ever makes concessions to anyone. To this need to move the authorities. It is most difficult to fight for the truth and for your legal rights. In humans, it doesn’t fit in their heads; the violations themselves seem unnatural. Therefore, they often prefer to suffer in silence than to resist loudly. ”
However, Janis Urbanovich himself, according to him, is not ready to lead the fight for Russian schools. However, he promised that "Consent", at least, would not terminate his existing agreement on cooperation with the party "United Russia" (EP). The presence of this agreement the Latvian parties fiercely reproached the "Consent" all the past years. But only a month passed after these words of Urbanovich - and Nil Ushakov announced that the mentioned agreement is no longer valid. It is noteworthy that the only one of the “Consent” who dared to publicly criticize this decision of Ushakov was the aforementioned Andrei Mamykin, who came to the rally in defense of Russian schools. Latvian publicist Vadim Avva raises the question: “In connection with the decision of Ushakov to break the contract with United Russia, I propose to think about this. If the interests of Russians in Latvia are three global things: the first is secondary and higher education in the native language, the second is proportional representation in all government bodies, the third is good relations with our ethnic homeland, answer, citizens, which Latvian party consistently defends these three things? "Consent"? What does this specifically mean? ”
It has been suggested that the Latvian ruling officials received from the “consonants” certain guarantees that their resistance to inhuman “school reform” would be purely decorative. It was precisely to prove this that the Ushakovites were revealingly disarmed - by abandoning the treaty with the EP. In exchange, Ushakov was probably promised access to the ruling coalition and ministerial posts a year later. What is there Nil Valerievich any Russian school? He gave his son Tom (from his Latvian wife) to a Latvian kindergarten. There is another interesting fact. In early November, the Latvian newspaper Neatkarīgā Rita Avize (Independent Morning Newspaper) published information that Ushakov, using his connections in the European Socialist Party, was looking for ways to meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. According to the newspaper, the mayor of the capital hoped that within the framework of his cooperation with NATO, representatives of the military bloc would participate in the program of the Riga City Council on education - attend Russian schools, in order to bring young people closer to “Western values” with their stories and promote the growth of confidence in the alliance. Another thing is that Stoltenberg did not deny Nil Valerievich a conversation. A lower-ranking official, Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Public Diplomacy Takan Ildem, spoke with Ushakov, in the presence of specially called Latvian diplomatic representatives.
But the very desire of the “Russian mayor” to promote the “values of NATO” in Russian schools in Latvia is very significant.
It seems that non-indifferent activists seeking to defend their native language in educational institutions in Latvia will remain in this one-on-one battle with the state - they clearly cannot count on the help of any of the parliamentary parties.