Riga Mayor fined again for speaking Russian

27.04.2017, Latvia.

The Mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov, wrote on April 26 on his personal Facebook page that the Latvian State Language Center (Latvian: VVC) imposed another fine on him for communicating with people in Russian.

“You are not going to believe this, the VVC fined me again for 50 euro. This time, the reason was that when Russian-speaking schoolchildren asked me questions in Russian at an unofficial meeting, I answered them in Russian, too. The event was shown online on my personal Facebook page,” said Nil Ushakov. “According to the VVC, an official must not reply to students in their native language even during informal communication”.

The Mayor of Riga explained that “the State Language Act does not apply to informal communication”; therefore, it was not violated. He promises to contest the fine in court up to the Constitutional Court.

Nil Ushakov promises to remain committed to his principles, “And when Russian-speaking children ask me questions in the premises of the Duma in their native language, I will always answer them in Russian, too.”

In 2016, the Mayor of Riga got his first 140 euro fine from the VVC  for communicating through social media, in particular, using foreign languages including Russian. Previously, in 2015, the VVC launched an inspection after Nil Ushakov’s speech in Russian at the May 9th celebrations in Riga, but no violations were found.

Almost 40 percent of the Latvian population, who are Russian-speaking, failed to make Russian the second official language in a referendum initiated by human rights activists in 2012 because a major part of the Russian-speaking residents of Latvia are non-citizens deprived of voting rights. For the amendments to be accepted, an approval of half of Latvian voters was necessary. However, almost 75 per cent of the referendum participants voted against, so the necessary number of votes for the amendments was not secured.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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