Tag Archives: Latvia

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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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethnicity, History, Human side, Language, Project, Social Integration, Videos

Hitting the end of the road

Non-citizen passport

Few months after I made up my mind and decided to work on the non-citizenship subject for my first tv news documentary, and also after dozens of interviews and posts in this blog, I can say that the job is done.

The final piece is finished, though I am now gathering some important – for me – reviews before handing it in.

I am chuffed as nuts to see that all the hard work has finally paid off. Intense months where people around me had to bear with my ups and downs due to the stressing process of such a big project.

Of course there are always bits in the final output that I – and whoever knows about these things would agree with me –
would change. I keep thinking… “Should I move some clips around or change anything? Do I need more footage?” and so on.

I am an extremely perfectionist person, so I know this little bugger will always be whispering such thing into my ears. No matter where I am or what I do.

In the next couple of weeks I will be posting up some more bits of each interviewee, so you can get a broader glimpse of all what they say.  At the same time, the final documentary will be available to watch online any time soon – probably at the beginning of September.

Finally, I want to say that while writing this post, I noticed that this site has reached the 2,000 visitors since it was created back in February. Honestly, thank you so much. I never expected to have that many views. However, that also means that people have been getting engaged with the project as it was growing month by month. Thank you so much again for your patience and dedication to read and watch all what I’ve been sharing with you!

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Filed under Opinion, Project

“Non-citizenship is an artificial controversy”

Tom Schmit is a management teacher, communications consultant and long-term resident. He was born in Buffalo, New York, but moved to Latvia 12 years ago.

He speaks on the issue of non-citizenship in Latvia and the naturalisation procedure – comparing it to the one in the US. He also offers his take on the subject of politics and non-citizens in the Baltic country.

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethnicity, History, Opinion, Project

The Naturalisation procedure

Nadzezhda and her husband, a non-citizen of Latvia.

Non-citizens are able to apply for Latvian citizenship provided that they have been permanent residents of the country for, at least, five years. They have also to demonstrate Latvian language proficiency, pass both Latvia’s history and constitution tests and know the Latvian national anthem. One more thing

As I previously wrote, some 135,000 people have naturalised since 1995. The naturalisation rates reached its height over two periods; 1999 – 2001 and 2003 – 2005. However, the rates have fallen off substantially during the last few years.

Nadzezhda holds a Latvian passport, though she was born in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. She arrived in Latvia for the first time in 1985. Her desire to “feel more integrated in the country” and be able to vote and travel freely, led her to apply for citizenship and naturalise.

“I failed the writing exam the first time I apply for citizenship. I found it quite difficult to be honest,” said Nadzezhda.

She then attended to a language course to improve her Latvian and with the help of her daughter, who was at primary school, manage to pass the exam and naturalise.

She added; “I wanted to be a full right citizen of the country where I live and feel more integrated in its society. Besides, I wanted my daughter to have a Latvian passport, so she could feel at the same level like full right citizens.

“I did not have many problems when I was a non-citizen. As long as you know the language, things are fine. However, after acquiring Latvian citizenship I felt more confident in myself; I can take part in anything I want to as a full right citizen.

“I think the naturalisation procedure should be easier. There are hundreds of people who, like me, have been living in the country for many many years, paying the same taxes and contributing to the country’s development and the Government should ease the procedure for them.”

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Filed under Citizenship, Human side, Language, Project

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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Filed under Education, Ethnicity, Language, Project, Social Integration, Videos

“We have always fulfilled the EU legal framework”

Roberts Zile. ECR group

Non-citizenship in Latvia is an issue that concerns not only non-citizens and pro campaigners, but also those who defend that the naturalisation process is a fair one and it follows the framework of International law.

My idea is not to expose the situation of non-citizens in the Baltic country, but to analyse it from all points of view.

Roberts Zile is chairman of Latvia’s ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’/LNNK party and an MEP in the new European Conservatives and Reformists party in the European parliament. He is former Minister of Finance (1997-1998) and Minister of Transport (2002-2004).

He said; “We have offered them the possibility to become Latvian citizens and it is up to each individual. We have been changing the legislation over the years to adapt it each particular situation. If we had not fulfilled the EU legislation, we would not have become a EU member state.

“I have personally experienced the naturalisation process within my family. My mum came from Ukraine and though she was old when she took the exams, she passed them,” added Roberts Zile.

He believes that the issue of non-citizenship in Latvia has been “exaggerated over the years” and that his country faces other important challenges in the future.

Finally, he pointed out one more thing: “Tell me about a country where non-citizens have the right to vote in national or local elections? There is none, so why should we act differently?”

This is just a short piece extracted from the chat I had with Mr Zile. Stay tuned and don’t miss the best bits!

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Filed under Citizenship, History, Project, Saeima, Social Integration

“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!

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Filed under Citizenship, Human side, Project, Social Integration