MP Warns of Fallout After Latvia's Language Referendum
Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, has said that although the recent Latvian ballot measure to make Russian a second official language was crushed as predicted, deepening political polarization could have negative consequences for Estonia's southern neighbor.
Latvian voters roundly rejected the measure in a February 18 referendum, which saw a full 75 percent cast their ballots against the move on a voter turnout of 70 percent. The referendum was the result of a signature collection drive spearheaded by Russian radical Vladimir Linderman.
"The results of the Latvian referendum were predictable. There were no surprises here. Although the language question has found a clear answer, the deepening political polarization could have negative consequences for Latvia," Mihkelson told uudised.err.ee.
"Russia's official position, in which it does not recognize the results of the referendum as fair, unfortunately convinces us that polarization and deepening of internal tension in Latvia are in Moscow's interests," he said.
Mihkelson said that solidarity among the Baltic states was essential, because what happens in one country may have indirect consequences on the others.
Just under a third of Latvian residents belong to predominantly Russian-speaking ethnic groups.