RIGA, September 15. /TASS/. A protest against the transition of schools for ethnic minorities to teaching in the Latvian language was held in the capital of Riga, where about 5,000 people had come to the Dailes Theater for a demonstration that ended with a rally in Riga’s central park, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene on Saturday.
The protest was organized by the Russian School Defense Staff and the Latvian Russian Union party. The participants were carrying red balloons and placards in defense of the Russian language and chanting ‘Hands off Russian schools.’
“In 1998, a law rooting out Russian education totally from Latvian schools was passed. Nevertheless, in 2004 we managed to seek a compromise and the Russian schools were left in peace for long 13 years. It happened thanks to a first school revolution which we carried out taking dozens of thousands of people to Riga’s streets,” Miroslav Mitrofanov, a MEP for Latvia and co-chair of the Latvian Russian Union party, told TASS.
“This historical experience shows that one must fight, as strength – the inner strength and resolve – is respected in all times and in all countries and expert discussions cannot replace people in the streets who say ‘No’ to the government,” he said. “Now we are saying ‘No’ to the language reform at Latvia’s Russian schools.”
Protests against teaching in Latvian at Russian schools are taking place in the run-up to the parliamentary election, due to be held on October 6 in the country.
“However, we will do our best in these conditions. Today’s rally is linked to the election and without it, no successes are possible in the future. We should make a powerful statement that the Latvian Russian Union party will be represented in Latvia’s would-be parliament and that we will be provided with a platform so as to organize more events in protection of Russian schools,” Mitrofanov stressed. “We must continue fighting at the level of parliament.”