Category Archives: Education

Soviet Legacy

Non-citizen passport

So here it comes, this is the final TV documentary I have been working on during the last couple of months. As I promised, I uploaded it on Vimeo (it is divided in two parts) so you can watch it any time you want.

However, I have protected it by password. So if you want to check it out, just post your email address in the comments and I will be sending the password to your inbox as soon as I can.

As a sort of intro for newcomers to the blog – and pitch as well – the text below;

Soviet Legacy

Latvia regained its independence in August 1991 and the new elected government updated the country’s citizenship law one month later, creating a new status for the former USSR citizens.
Twenty years later, the country still has 325,000 inhabitants who hold an alien passport, what limits their democratic and social rights.

Non-citizens have been offered the possibility to acquire Latvian citizenship, but most of them just refuse it for different reasons.

Who is to blame for having such a special situation within a EU state member? Is it democratically fair for a state member to have such a large community of people whose rights are limited? Why do not non-citizens apply for the Latvian passport?

I analyze the whole situation in this documentary. Check it out!

Soviet legacy (Part One)

Soviet legacy (Part Two)

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Language, a sensitive issue

Svetlana Djačkova, researcher at the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, on language and integration in the Baltic Country and Latvian language proficiency.

To watch more bits of this interview, stay tuned for the final documentary!

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First stories; Yuri Petropavlovsky

My first interviewee was Yuri Petropavlovsky, and ethnic Russian and one of the most politically active non-citizen of Latvija, especially since the education reform’s protests in the country in 2004.

Yuri Petropavlovsky

Yuri was born in Riga (3 March 1955) and went for naturalisation (a process that coincided with the education reform), but his political life, we can say, cost him the Latvian passport.

He has been involved in politics for quite a long time now; he is member of ‘For Human Rights in United Latvia‘ party and he even tried to run for Riga’s mayor few years ago. However, he could not take part in the city’s elections, for the Government of Latvija revoked his citizenship after he says he was considered “disloyal” to the country.

He brought his case before both national and international courts.

In Latvija I have been told that the actions of the Government are outside the jurisdictions of the court, so I decided to take my case to the International Court for Human Rights in 2006. Europe should pronounce about my case as early as next year,” says Yuri.

“But to be honest, I appealed for my case and now what? Europe does not care about non-citizens in Latvija.”

Yuri studied Art and Design in Riga and spent some years of his professional life working for a range of private businesses. At the moment however, he is currently working as an analyst and writing for different Russian media outlets, as well as hosting a radio programme every week in a Russian radio station in Riga.

He did not take part in the referendum for Latvija’s independence in the early 1990s, something a lot of non-citizens did do, and while he waits for the resolution of his case, he assures me that current naturalisation rates, which are at one of its lowest points ever, show that something has changed among non-citizens in Latvija…. What is it?

Stay tuned for the final output to find out more!

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Latvia, a country of contrast

Drawing and Sketching artists in Rīga

After tonnes of emails and thousand calls, the time has finally come. My first interview – with a guided tour around downtown Rīga and its main historical buildings and areas – will be tomorrow afternoon.

Up to this very moment, I have been soaking up the Latvian culture and atmosphere. During my first five days in the country I have been trying to improve my Latvian – I am actually really proud of it, since it is getting better every day – and above all to understand a country that differs massively from the one I grew up in.

By that I mean keep myself updated with the latest newsy events, learn more about the palpable Soviet heritage that is easily noticeable in Latvija, especially in a great number of its buildings – the mixture of neglected areas and the old colourness Soviet buildings – and the stratification of Latvija’s society, the huge gap between rich and poor people.

I mixed myself among natives as much as I could, getting on rural buses that took me around the countryside in southern Latvija and getting lost in popular markets. Once someone told me that the best way to see a new country through the natives’ perspective is by visiting its daily markets and buy at least something in any of the stalls in them.

There are loads of individuals living just above the poverty line in Latvija. These people are the ones who were and are worst affected by the economic crunch that hit the country some three years ago. They mainly live in rural areas, but their presence in Rīga is easy to notice. However, this is something I will be talking about in future posts.

Let’s go back to the interview. The name of my interviewee is a big one among the non-citizens or aliens – without playing down other non-citizens importance.

I am not going to reveal it now, I would ask you instead to stay tuned for following posts. But I am telling you that he acquired citizenship by naturalisation and the Government of Latvija revoked it, for he took part in a series of education protests, something the authorities considered disloyal to Latvija.

More tomorrow…

PS One of the things that surprised me the most was the large number of drawing and sketching artists I have seen around Rīga city centre. They seek out inspiration on the capital’s Art Noveau for which it is widely known.

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The Last Prisoners of the Cold War

When working on a story, we journalist try always to bring them to life by showing their human side. That means that whatever the issue is, there is always someone affected by that, so we tend to use it to make our output more attractive and appealing to the audience.

That is something every wannabe journo learns from an early stage. Hence we should never forget about that in our journey.

Behind all the legal and historical words that we have been writing about up to this moment, there are lots of stories of human beings affected by all that.

A good compilation of experiences, memories and statement is ‘The Last Prisoners of the Cold War‘.

Miroslavs MitrofanovsAleksandrs GamaļejevsViktors JolkinsVladimirs BuzajevsAleksejs Dimitrovs and Tatjana Ždanoka (you will read more about her in following posts) have contributed to this moving publication.

I could keep writing about the book, but I would rather recommend you to spend some of your spare time reading it.

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5 articles on Social Integration in Latvia

 

1.- Saeima member Ainar Slesers proposes granting Latvian citizenship to foreigners who donate EUR 1 million. Slesers (For A Good Latvia) considers this a measure that will increase the country’s income and allow wealthy foreigners apply for Latvian citizenship. According to the MP there could be “up to 10,000 families” who could receive the Latvian passport. (Read more)

Continue reading

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Aim of the blog


The Riga Castle housing the home of the Latvian President

 

Twenty years ago, the USSR collapsed. This opened up a new world not only within international frameworks but within the bloc of Eastern countries in Europe. Among them Latvia.

The Baltic country regained its full independence in August 1991, opening the doors to a new era. However, the legacy of the USSR was and is vast. One of the most important was former Soviet citizen who both Russia and Latvia denied their national passport. It was a crack on the wall Latvian society was building up. Continue reading

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