Latvian Saeima deputy Ingmārs Līdaka says it is unclear the objective the government wants to accomplish by passing amendments to the Immigration Law that state how Russian citizens that want to receive or extend residence permits are required to pass a mandatory state language exam.
“Perhaps the objective is getting rid of those pensioners, or perhaps the objective is making those people loyal to Latvia. Neither of the two is clear,” Līdaka told TV24 programme Ziņu TOP, adding that “if the objective was making those people regret what they did, the objective was achieved at a very high price”.
The politician explained there is currently a very high probability of approximately 6 000 people receiving orders to leave the country in September.
Līdaka stressed that those are “mostly people of pension age who have nothing in Russia”, and their children and grandchildren are Latvian citizens and live in Latvia. He said if these people are deported, their relatives will not start loving the Latvian government.
“They will be people who will hate Latvia and everything Latvian. Already there are multiple Russian-speaking families that have plans to move to Russia for life,” explained Līdaka, adding that this will result in Latvia losing potential taxpayers.
According to him, it would make more sense to give them more time and provide an opportunity to study Latvian language to prepare for the mandatory state language exam.
“Exam results could be presented to people at the time of signing of residence permits, which is done every five years. This would give people more time to learn the language,” said the Saeima deputy.
BNN previously reported that the issue of the need to speed up the requirement for Russian citizens living in Latvia to undergo a mandatory Latvian language exam has been a topic of for heated discussions for both residents and politicians.
Many residents say the question how these people are supposed to learn Latvian language in such a short time and pass the exam is not the question that should be asked, rather – why most of them didn’t do it 10, 20 or 30 year ago?
Pro-Russian social network users have already started using these amendments to the Immigration Law to accuse Latvia of discrimination against Russians.
Data from the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) shows that between the 11th of April and the 7th of May a total of 4 995 Russian citizens have passed the Latvian language exam. Approximately 49% managed to pass the exam on first try.
The Ministry of Education and Science has information that suggests the total number of Russian citizens subject to the mandatory language exam in Latvia is 17 865. However, so far only 8 131 persons from that group have signed up for the exam.
The ministry also reports that approximately 4 000 of them will have to take the exam again.
IZM prepared amendments “Regulations on the extent of knowledge of the state language and the procedure for testing the knowledge of the official language” to introduce an order under which Russian citizens living in Latvia will be able to register and take the exam if they failed to do that by the 24th of March.
Amendments to the Immigration Law state that the people who were previously Latvian citizens or non-citizens and who have since accepted Russian citizenship are to undergo mandatory Latvian language test.
According to available information, there are approximately 9 000 people who have not signed for the mandatory state language exam. This means their residence permits will end on the 1st of September.
The Saeima decided to provide Russian citizens time until the end of November to attempt the Language language exam again. Their residence permits will remain valid and new document issue terms are extended until the end of the year.
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