Latvia may restrict Russian – Language Magazine

Latvia, a former member of the Soviet Union that shares a border with Russia, may decide to restrict the Russian language in workplaces, according to the country’s deputy prime minister.

Jānis Bordāns, who is also Latvia’s justice minister, told the Delfi news service that the justice ministry was working on a “bilingualism restriction law”, which would reduce the presence of Russian in the Latvian public sphere. He argued that “society should know that the Latvian language should be used for business relations, as well as for communication in the workplace”.

The legislation says Latvia could distance itself from Russia and its past as part of the USSR, whose fall left more than 25 million ethnic Russians living outside their home country.

“It is necessary to establish a ban on the use of a language which is not a language of the European Union, in addition to the state language, when selling goods or providing services. It is possible that Russian will also be excluded from telephone and banking messages,” Bordāns said.

He added that “the long-term consequences of Russification are such that the practice of the simultaneous use of Latvian and Russian in daily communications, places of service and workplaces has become entrenched.”

It is not the first time that Latvia has been confronted with the status of Russian in its society. In February 2012, a national referendum saw 75% of Latvians vote against adopting Russian as a second official language.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb