Latvia launches proceedings against mayor of Ventspils for speaking Russian


March 8, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– RiaNovosti – Translated by James Harmon

The Center of state language of Latvia started a preceding against the mayor of Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs, who had addressed an audience in Russian in the Jūras vārti theatre before a production began.

In the evening on February 28th at the Riga Russian Theatre with Mikhail Chekhov, Lembergs signed a contract, but before this Chekhov spent a few minutes talking to the assembled audience in Russian as well. Translation of his speech into Latvian did not follow. Before that Lembergs briefly greeted those present in the hall in Latvian.

“Thus this incident was investigated by the Center of state language”, stated news portal .

Lembergs explained his choice to communicate with the public in Russian was due to the fact that the audience in the theatre was  mostly Russian-speaking.

The organizer of the event was the municipal enterprise Kurzemes filharmonija. According to its director Sigita Migoly, the production was the “Garnet Bracelet” (a Russian work), but the speech of Lembergs was spontaneous.

Deputy Director of the Center for State Language, Ingrida Berzins, told reporters that on completion of an inspection of all involved parties, there will be given an explanation of further action.

“If the event is organized by the state or self-government, the working language is Latvian. If it is the Deputy Speaker or  the deputies of the Republic of Latvia, it is always necessary to speak the state language.”, Added Berzinja.

On the 19th of February, the Center of state language began administrative proceedings against the mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov, due to the fact that he was communicating with students in Russian.

The Code of Administrative Offences for the lack of translation into the state language on the territory of Latvia during public events is a fine of 35-70 euros if state officials are involved in the offense.

In Latvia, there is one state language – Latvian. Russian has the status of a foreign language, even though it is native to almost 40% of the population.

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