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Latvia Has Racist Voting Laws and The Guardian Didn't Even Notice

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Denying ethnic Russians the right to vote in Latvia is absolutely extraordinary.

If any other European country did this to any ethnic minority - Rom, Arabs, Albanians - the guardians of human rights would be screaming about discrimation and fascism.

<figcaption>Fascist sympathies.  Latvians paying homage to soldiers who fought for the Nazis</figcaption>
Fascist sympathies. Latvians paying homage to soldiers who fought for the Nazis

It seems only ethnic Russians are unworthy of basic human rights. 

Will Washington call this election fraudulent and invalid since a substantial share of the electorate was not allowed to vote?

Will it snow in hell next Tuesday?

The Guardian describes all this in an article published on Saturday, with nary a hint that something is wrong here:

Many ethnic Russians in Latvia are still "non-citizens" – they have a travel document but not a full passport and are not entitled to vote. Because the Latvian government considers the Soviet period an occupation, anyone whose ancestors were not living in the country prior to 1940 – the vast majority of Russians – has to pass an exam on Latvian culture and history before becoming a citizen. There are 282,000 non-citizens in Latvia, more than one in 10 of the population.

Viktor Gushchin, an ethnic Russian historian and rights activist, claims any election in which 10% of the population has no right to vote cannot be democratic and calls Latvia a "xenophobic and Russophobic state built on Nazi principles", similar rhetoric to that which the Kremlin has used in east Ukraine.

"Most Russians in Latvia are more European, they like Latvia, and they want to live here, but they are seen as a fifth column by the government," said Ignatiev. "At least thanks to Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine, suddenly our Russians are being included in the process, being asked for their votes."

Many Latvian politicians dismiss these issues and say there are no major ethnic problems in the country. "In my view there is no real problem in society; the problem is extremist politicians on both sides," said Kalnins.
"Putin hates the Baltics, he wants to recreate the Soviet Union, and it's very important we never let Russian politicians into power who would sell our country to the Kremlin and kill our independence," said a 32-year-old ethnic Latvian lawyer who was voting in the capital.

 


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