Select language:

Russian-speaking dissident activists being arrested in Latvia

 /  / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications /  Russian-speaking dissident activists being arrested in Latvia

Russian-speaking dissident activists being arrested in Latvia


Alla Berezovskaya

Two people have already been put in jail – PhD in Economics A. Gaponenko, and journalist V. Linderman. Other people who took part in the All-Latvian Parents’ Meeting recently held in Riga and dedicated to the Russian schools reorganization are being closely watched by the local security services.

The Big Brother seems to be watching a lot of people, apart from the above mentioned activists, the list includes ex-European Parliament deputy and the Leader of the Russian Latvian Union Tatiana Zhdanok, the activist form Russian schools Protection Headquarters Alexander Livchak, and even two young mothers who spoke emotionally at the public Parents meeting.

By the way, one of them has three children, though this fact did not stop a gang of the masked fellows from breaking into her office at the rehabilitation center to drag her to the Security Police for questioning.

Russian-speaking human rights activists in Latvia protest against making heroes out of Fascists allies. A. Gaponenko is in the centre.

Write letters and expect an answer

Half a year ago I came to protect Russian schools. Like many others, I was appalled to the bottom of my heart by the rudeness of Latvian authorities towards the Russian-speaking population of the country, towards us and our children, who are being deprived of the right to choose the language of teaching by the will of a handful of political screw-ups.

A few thousand irritated, worried and distressed parents and grandparents turned up. We started discussing the problem openly, first in the social media, then at parents meetings in the Russian Latvian Union, whose leaders appeared to be ready, the only ones in our country, to fight for our right to teach our children in their native language.

Dozens of appeals and letters were written to the President, the Parliament deputies, Ministers and politicians by the Russian Latvian Union community and other cultural social organizations, by Russian professors and academicians, by the schoolchildrens parents from Russian schools. The only thing we asked for was not to hurry with the educational reorganization for it was crude and badly prepared, had no foundation, no methods or means of implementation.

Nothing happened! Except for the fact that a group of national patriots from the Latvian Parliament craved for reporting their main and big achievement before the Parliament elections: we did it, we ruined the Russian schools! They have nothing else to brag about. As they cannot boast of the fact that 20 thousand people leave the country on an annual basis, can they?

It goes without saying that hundreds of the Russian people residing in Latvia felt offended and humiliated. This time the politicians painfully attacked our children, jeopardized their destinies and their future.

Tatiana Zhdanok. Picture: Russian Union of Latvia/Facebook

The actions of such pity of Ministers and officials of Education have caused a serious disagreement in the society, which threatens to grow into, I would go as far as saying, a real international conflict…

The paradox of our time is that the Latvian Security Police blames the participants of the All-Latvian Parents Meeting, including the author of this article for this controversy instead of accusing the authors of this wretched and faulty school reorganization.

I was invited to the Security Police office by the phone and decided not to play hide-and-seek with them as I have nothing to hide. I write what I see. It is my job.

This time in 1937

In the morning on May 9, I was walking to meet the yet-unknown Security Police inspector with a pen and a notepad at hand trying to imagine what my father, who was a journalist too, must have felt when he was taken from his office in a newspaper publishers for questioning to a similar organization back in 1937

When I was a child, I used to question him about the life back then. I know that my father was arrested on the report of his colleague, and accused of writing anti-Soviet articles, but they couldnt sustain the charges. He did not admit his fault.

During questioning at night, the inspector would hit a metal ruler against the desk when he saw that the prisoner was falling asleep. Then my father trained himself to sleep with his eyes wide open He spent the total of 18 years in exile at Stalins labor camps. In 1955 he was fully rehabilitated. When I studied in the 9th grade, he died aged 68, which left an unhealing would in my heart

A face is blurred seen eye to eye

Here I am at the Security Police office. Inspector Bulls room is hot and stuffy. Opposite his desk there are two slightly sagged chairs still keeping the memory of the people who once sat here, now gone. There is no ruler on his desk Out of explanations, I learn that I am under a criminal process.

What does it mean? It is as if you are standing in the hall waiting for the inspector to decide which room to place you in the nearest room saying A Witness or the other room saying A Suspect. There is the third option as well they might say the room for you is not ready yet and you will leave for home.

I am familiarized with rights and responsibilities of the person under criminal processing. I am clarified that my clause is number 78 (at once, my fathers clause 58 comes to my mind), part 1 incitement of the ethnic hatred. The punishment is up to three years in prison, by the way. Here comes Lavrenty Beria!

We shall go to President, we shall remind him

There are no words to describe how surprised I am. I keep silent. I refuse from a lawyer. Bulls and I watch a part of my speech at the All-Latvian Parents Meeting to refresh my memory. The recording is good, done well

Here I briefly quote my own speech:

In the middle of March, the Head of the Russian Latvian Union and ourselves sent appeals signed by about 4 thousand people to different departments and committees including the UN, PACE, EC and UNESCO.

As of today, we have received 4 answers. One is from OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Affairs, whose cabinet members asked us to keep them posted on the situation in Latvia.

Russia is also raising the question of the rights of the Russians residing in the Baltic countries for discussion at the international arena. Besides, the members of the Russian communities in 35 countries held flash mobs in support of the Russian schools in Latvia following our call.

In the end of my speech, I encouraged the parents and everyone indifferent to the fate of teaching in the Russian language to participate in the officially announced march towards the Presidents castle on April 4.

Here was the only time I conventionally touched upon the national issue by saying that we would go to the President:
We shall remind him that he is the President of all the peoples of Latvia, not only the Latish. Well remind him that his mother is Russian. Now he is betraying her as well as the whole country. This is very bad and we are asking him not to do it

Russian compatriots from all over the world support Russian schools in Latvia

Shnore is not Linderman, you know!

As far as I understand these are the words that I am accused of. I can't help thinking of Shnore, the Latvian Parliament deputy, who compared the Russians in Latvia to fleas you can't get rid of in a yellow newspapers interview last year.
Over a hundred complains from the Latvian residents were sent to the General Prosecutors office asking to sue the xenophobic politician for incitement of the ethnic hatred. But he is not Linderman, not even Berezovskaya or Kryukova! My opinion written in the protocol is as follows: the All-Latvian Parents Meeting was held in compliance with the Latvian Constitution, which provides for the freedom of meeting and freedom of speech. No unlawful actions took place there.


Then there was lengthy and tedious questioning on who gathered where and why, which I sincerely answered that I did not know, I did not remember, I had no idea. Slightly irritated by the fruitless conversation the inspector asked what made me mention Russia in my speech.

Latvian activist VladimirLinderman

Wasnt it a plea for help, like in Ukraine? Far be it from me! Thats what he wrote in the protocol at my dictation: according to the recording we have just heard together I mentioned Russia as the country which draws attention of the global community to the problems of Russian minorities in Latvia”.

The inspector was very surprised to hear that the Russian schools were Latvias cultural and historical heritage that needed to be saved. He asked me how come that it was heritage. Many other peoples lived in Latvia, including the Swedes, the Poles, the Lithuanians, so what, did they all need national schools the Russians, the Poles, the Jews?

Still, looking doubtful the inspector wrote down the date of the first Russian schools opening in Riga and the name of the Empress who had ordered that.

The inspector also disagreed with me aboutVladimir Lindermanbeing a radical. When asked about it, I thought it an overestimation. In my opinion, he has become much calmer and wiser recently. However, Bulls and my views on this are completely different. I hope this is not a criminal offence yet.

An hour later I was free to go. The inspector promised to consult the Criminal Code and think about the room which would define my future destiny.

The sourse:BaltNews

New publications

Since the beginning of the unrest in Kazakhstan, some media and Telegram channels have speculated about the threat to Russians living in the Republic. Allegedly, the introduction of CSTO forces would put them in danger due to the rise of Kazakh nationalism. Izvestia talked to Russians living in the country to find out how the January events had affected their relations with Kazakhs. Interviewees claimed that the introduction of CSTO peacekeepers had no effect on interethnic dialogue because the Russians living in the Republic were not associated with Russia - they were locals. However, according to Izvestia's interlocutors, there is still intolerance at the mundane level.
Vladimir Kanevsky moved from St. Petersburg to the U.S. in the 1980s. He's got engaged in creating porcelain flowers instead of architecture, which was an unexpected move even for him. Now designers of international fame collect exquisite bouquets by Vladimir Kanevsky, and the best museums of the world arrange exhibitions of his works.
Russian animator Sergey Merinov opened the first Russian online school of clay animation and was amazed by the geography of applications received. They were sent by people from Moscow to Khabarovsk in Russia, as well as from the USA, Colombia, Finland, and other countries. They all wanted to study the most labor-consuming type of animation.
Stepan Erzia was a Mordvin sculptor who lived in Soviet Russia and Argentina. The Erzia Center in Moscow houses a collection of unique sculptural replicas. Most of them are the casts from the artist's works kept in South America, although there are some originals as well.
There is a dialect of Russian called Alaskan Russian. It dates back to the second half of the 18th century when Alaska was owned by Russia. The locals had to somehow communicate with Russian manufacturers and merchants. As a result of this communication, a special dialect was born. And although Alaska ceased to be a part of Russia for more than fifty years, the dialect has survived. It is still used in several localities, the main one being the village of Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula. But the phenomenon of Alaskan Russian is not only about linguistics and not so much about it. It is about space and time. The territory changed its state affiliation, lost its connection with the Russian culture, and became a full-fledged state of the USA. But the language preserves traces of history in some amazing way.
First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs and Chairman of the Board of the Russkiy Mir Foundation Vyacheslav Nikonov has stated that USA is conducting an "anti-Russian month" escalating the situation on the Ukrainian border and pushing NATO infrastructure closer to Russia in the process.
Red Squares 10.12.2021
"Superpower," "Red Empire," "Country of victorious socialism," "Colossus on clay feet," and even "Prison of nations" - just a few definitions that are still used for the country that demised 30 years ago. Although the USSR disappeared from the political scene irreversibly, it has forever remained in the memory, and not only of its former residents. For seven decades, the world used to follow the successes and failures of the Soviet experiment. There were those that feared the eastern neighbour, others attempted to adopt the Marxism-Leninism model.