Activists want Russian language to have official status in Latvia
A campaign for a referendum on the Russian language is unfolding in Latvia, despite the government’s warnings that it will “worsen the split” in society.
The status of Russian as the second state language is dangerous for Latvia, the country’s Cultural Minister Sarmite Elerte said on Wednesday. She explained her position by “the split in the bilingual society,” which is stressful for ethnic Latvians, Russians and minorities.
Ethnic Russians make up about 30 percent of the Latvia’s population and more than 40 percent in the capital, Riga. The aim of the campaign launched on March 7 is to give the Russian language the status of a second official language. The referendum will be called if the required 10,000 signatures are collected. The campaigners have already managed to collect a thousand signatures.
The campaigners for the referendum on the Russian language followed the example of the opposition “For Fatherland and Freedom” party. Its members had collected signatures in support of switching over to Latvian at Russian-speaking schools financed by the state.
Elerte told journalists she considered ethnic Russians the national minority in the country. The minister cited the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities to support her views. Minorities are ethnic groups who have lived in Latvia for generations and regard themselves as Latvian nationals Itar-Tass quoted her as saying.
The state language is the most important problem that divides ethnic Latvians, Russians and national minorities since Latvia became independent in 1991.
(Via Russia Today)
Lithuania ties minorities’ educational tongue
The Lithuanian parliament has adopted a law that cuts school hours for Russian language classes in Russian schools. Teachers say the law violates the rights of national minorities.
Under the new rules, starting in the next academic year the country’s history, geography, as well natural history and civil studies will be taught in Lithuanian. The law also provides that school hours for the national language should not exceed the amount of lessons of Lithuanian. All this will lead to the drastic reduction of academic hours of disciplines taught in the native language.
From 2013 all school graduates from both Lithuanian and national minority schools should pass a standardized Lithuanian language exam, which sets the same requirements for native and non-native speakers of Lithuanian.
“The step has nothing to do with the integration of national minorities, on the contrary, it’s a direct violation of their rights. It is definitely a road to complete assimilation,” said head of the Association of Russian school teachers Ella Kanaite. She added that the country’s “democracy” has double standards. Indeed, she added, the parliament which adopted the law flatly ignored more than 60,000 signatures collected by Russian and Polish diasporas in support of their constitutional right to education in their native language.
(Via Russia Today)
Russian bombers ‘intercepted in British airspace’
March 25, 2010 (last year)
Rare photos of Russian strategic bomber jets purportedly intercepted in British airspace show Moscow’s war machine is becoming increasingly bold, analysts said Thursday as Russia denied any territorial violations.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence released images it said were taken earlier this month of two Russian Tu-160 bombers — known as Blackjacks by NATO forces — as they entered UK airspace near the Outer Hebrides islands off Scotland’s northwest coast.
It said the March 10 incident, which resulted in crystal clear images of the planes against clear blue skies and a dramatic sunset, was one of many intercepts carried out by British Royal Air Force crews in just over 12 months.
“This is not an unusual incident, and many people may be surprised to know that our crews have successfully scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft on more than 20 occasions since the start of 2009,” Wing Cdr. Mark Gorringe, of the RAF’s 111 Squadron, said in a statement.