“Naturalisation is a cynical procedure”

Interview with Aleksandrs Filejs

Aleksandrs Filejs is the youngest non-citizen of Latvija I have met so far. He was born in 1988 and is currently studying a master’s degree in Russian philology.

He told me about his story while sitting on a terrace in Old Riga – Vecrīga – enjoying a midday coffee. It was raining heavily.

“Naturalisation is a cynical procedure introduced at the very beginning of the 1990s. I particularly was born in Rīga, so why should pass an exam to acquire the citizenship of my country? I believe it should be given automatically to me,” said Aleksandrs.

Also, he mentioned ” a moral discomfort” when talking about the right to vote in any Latvian elections. Besides, he said; “I want my country to be developed, but nowadays Latvia is highly separated from inside.”

He is currently employed as a tourist guide, for he takes advantage of the several languages he speaks; Latvian, Russian, French and Spanish.

Aleksandrs is convinced that the problem of non-citizenship in Latvia can be solved, but how?

If you want to find out more about him and his answer to the above question stay tuned!



Filed under Citizenship, Human side, Project, Social Integration

5 responses to ““Naturalisation is a cynical procedure”

  1. It must be so interesting interviewing all these people with such important stories to tell. It looks like a lovely setting for an interview. Really looking forward to seeing the final doc!

  2. I wonder when you will get to the perspective of those who feel that the naturalisation process is a reasonable thing and simply follows the rule of law common to other European countries.

    • Ruben Martínez

      I’ve just got the interviews and I will be posting them up shortly. This project tries to give voice to everyone, not just non-citizens and campaigners. But anyway, thanks for the comment Tom!

  3. Thanks for your response.
    I wonder if there is more in this interview that supports his view that the naturalization process is “cynical”? He really only says (in this piece) that it is somehow unfair and personally uncomfortable. Why cynical?

    I hope that Zile gave voice to the fuller arguments regarding the importance of establishing continuity with the pre-occupation Republic of Latvia. In fact, if you want cynicism, it would have been cynical to ignore the Republic and simply grant citizenship to those who migrated under conditions of occupation.

    Please consider the voices of all those citizens (ethnic LVs AND RUs) who felt (and still feel) displaced by people that came here basically illegally. These perceptions will take a long time to dissipate.

    The simplest analogy I can think of would be of the child of an Israeli “settler” born in a “settlement” in the occupied West Bank, someday insisting that they have a right to citizenship in a (future) Palestinian state. Another more historical analogy is that of a baby born to German parents in occupied Denmark insisting on Danish citizenship simply by virtue of having been born there. Make sense?

    At the end, I agree that it would have been truly magnanimous and politically smart (internationally) to have awarded citizenship to those who were born here, but (big BUT) those who came here during the occupation have no right to have expected it (failing the quid pro quo I asked about in the other thread).

  4. Ruben Martínez

    Thanks for your comment Tom, it is much appreciated!

    In here I just posted some bits of the interviews, because I am preparing a tv piece that would contain more about the subject.

    I do not want to write everything in here now, otherwise the final piece would not make sense. I will keep posting things up – short videos, some bits of the interviews…

    Perhaps we could grab a coffee some time and talk about everything, it would be really interesting to get to know more about your point of view. Are you in Latvia?

    Many thanks for your interest in the project!

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