Latvia may deport more than 1,000 Russians

Latvia may deport more than 1,000 Russians
# 18 December 2023 14:42 (UTC +04:00)

Latvia is considering expelling more than 1,000 Russians for failing to comply with the necessary steps to extend their temporary residence permit, APA reports citing Kyiv Independent.

The Latvian parliament passed an amendment in 2022 tightening residency rules for Russian citizens in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russians living in Latvia are now required to apply for permanent residence and pass a basic-level Latvian language test.

Around 24% of Latvia's population are ethnic Russians, some of whom have Latvian citizenship, and some Russian citizens. Latvia also has a considerable population (9.3%) of non-citizens, the majority of whom are Russian. They can obtain Latvian citizenship through a naturalization process.

Latvian authorities sent letters to over 3,000 Russian citizens, telling them that they would have to leave Latvia as they failed to register for the residency and the language test.

The Baltic country, which has lived under Soviet dominion for a large part of the 20th century, has also recently intensified its policy of de-Sovietization and de-Russification of the public sphere.

A law passed in September aims to phase out Russian and other minority languages as a language of instruction in schools by 2025.

Russia has labeled such policies in Latvia and other Baltic countries as "Russophobia."

Latvian authorities have defended the language policy, saying that it simply asks residents to achieve a low level of knowledge of the national language and that there was ample time offered for residents to learn it.