World » Former USSR
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Latvian lawmakers prepare declaration to expel 500,000 people

Assuming the Russian-speaking population will leave Latvia by planes, the Latvian national airline airBaltic will have to make over 400 flights

A group of deputies of the Latvian parliament decided to expel hundreds of thousands of former USSR citizens from Latvia. Discussing the initiative in press, Latvian reporters calculated the implementation of the monstrous plan would cost more than just a fortune, not to mention the fact such things still occur in the up-to-date civilized world.

Authors of the new declaration believe Latvia-based citizens of the former Soviet Union, who do not hold the Latvian citizenship (the Russian-speaking minority), are the legacy of the communist past. The EU and NATO will help Latvia get rid of it. The draft decree, the newspaper Diena wrote, contains an appeal to the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to approve the official declaration about the denunciation of the communist regime in the international scale and demand Russia should compensate the material and moral damage caused with the occupation and genocide. Latvian deputies suggest Latvia should be decolonized and former USSR citizens - expelled.

The draft declaration also calls upon the international community to lend political and economic support to Latvia to overcome the consequences of the occupation, investigate the crimes of communism and punish the guilty. Deputies think the communist totalitarian ideology pushed forward most terrifying crimes against humanity. Those crimes, deputies think, have not been equalized with Nazism.

The Telegraph wrote, the draft decree developed by the group of Seym's radicals, implies the expulsion of 300 or 500 thousand citizens from Latvia, who had settled there after 1945. “If these people stand in line one after another, the line will be 200 kilometers long. In other words, when the last person standing in the line will be leaving Riga, the front part of the column will start crossing the border between Latvia and Russia. It will take them about a week to walk from Riga to Moscow,” the newspaper wrote.

Assuming the Russian-speaking population will leave Latvia by planes, the Latvian national airline airBaltic will have to make over 400 Riga-Moscow flights. AirBaltic's fleet consists of four Boeing 373-500 (120 seats), three AVRO RJ 70 (70 seats) and six Fokker 50 (46 seats). Taking into consideration the time needed for servicing planes, the airline will finish the flights in about 100 days. The Telegraph also wrote about 8,000 train cars will be needed for the railway transportation.

Many common Latvian citizens have been perplexed with the idea to expel hundreds of thousands of people from the center of civilized Europe. Local specialists of politics, however, advise such initiatives should be treated as ideas of no great importance. They are presumably meant for certain groups of people in the country. Nevertheless, such statements aggravate tense relations between Latvia and Russia.

”The peculiar feature of many Latvian politicians is the absence of realism. They have 'infected' the majority of Latvians with this disease,” former chairman of the Latvian parliament Alfred Chepanis told Vesty Segodnya. At heart, I would definitely like Latvia to become a superpower. However, I am a realistic person and I realize we will never be on the same level with the USA or Russia. It means Latvia should be more flexible in its dialogues with Washington or Moscow. No one asks us to bootlick, beg and plead anyone. One has to respect neighbors,'' former speaker of the Latvian parliament said. Chepanis emphasized, awkward and unintelligent policy towards CIS states causes multimillion damage to Latvia. “The major problem as far as relations with Russia are concerned is the inability to negotiate with our eastern partner. There is no ultimate feeling of reality,” Alfred Chepanis said.

Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Artis Pabriks does not share lawmakers' opinion about the draft declaration either. The minister believes the time of declarations is over, all discrepancies between Latvia and Russia can be settled with the help of diplomacy and lobbyism. “One should recollect what happened to all previous declarations and then think, if the current document is a step forward,” the minister said.

Rodion Denisov
Riga

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