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Latvia to hold referendum on Russian language

08.01.2012 - 18:03

 

Whether Russian will be treated as the official second language of Latvia is set to be decided through a referendum.

Local media reported last week citing Latvia’s Central Election Commission that the nationwide referendum would be held on 19 February. 

For the Russian language to acquire the status of being the country’s second official language, more than one half of Latvia’s residents, which makes about 772,000 people, must vote for it. 

Out of Latvia’s total population of 2 million people, nearly 16%, mainly ethnic Russians, have no citizenship and, thus, no right to vote. In total, Russians make 44% of Latvia’s population, according to news reports. The movement in support of the rights of Russian speakers started in Latvia on 7 March last year. 

According to the latest available data, over 12% of the country’s population supports the initiative. However, neither the president nor the parliament hitherto backed this initiative.