20.05.2014 Alexander Filey, Russian Union of Latvia: “Tatyana Zdanok successfully represents our interests”
Could You introduce Yourself to our audience - what do You do in Your life apart from being active politician of Russian Union of Latvia?
My name is Alexander Filey. I am a linguist, a publicist. I speak five languages – Russian, English, Latvian, French and Spanish. Master of Humanities of University of Latvia. Student of PhD programm of Ventspils High School. My field of leraning and my research is related to historical linguistics and historical contacts of the Russian language with the German and the French.
I am taking part in mass protests of School revoulution against violent letonization of national schools (Russian and other).
Coordinator of philological action "Total dictation " in Latvia the third year.
I am active participant of the “Days of Russian culture” in Latvia, the organizer of walking tours, which take place during this festival.
As a member of the movement "For equal rights" I accept foreign correspondents interested in the problem of non-citizenship in Latvia.
Why have You decided to start from the list of Russian
I have decided to start from the list of Russian Union of Latvia because this party fully meets my feelings and sentiments with regard to the protection of the interests of certain categories of the population of
The party “Harmony” prefers softer, more conformist position.
On the contrary, Russian Union of Latvia honestly, openly and with dignity defends the rights and needs of the Russian people, staying true to its ideology and values. Our party holds more constructive policy to protect the rights of Russian-speaking population in Latvia, which is manifested in the activities of the Committee on Human Rights, in the fight against juvenile technologies and in the fight for the preservation of education in mother tongue.
You reject the word "occupation" as politically motivated. But there is no doubt that in 1940 Latvia was brutally - by force - annexed by the Soviet Union. Sovereignty of Latvia was violated, lots of people were victimized, shot, exiled to Siberia, among them many Russians (like Meletiy Kalistratov). What word do You propose instead of "occupation"?
I would call it in the most neutral way: the establishment of Soviet power in Latvia and the subsequent accession of Latvia to the Soviet Union. How can you call it “occupation” if the Latvian dictator Karlis Ulmanis put his signature on the document, which legalized the entering of Soviet troops in the morning on June 17th? And this entering of a limited contingent catalysed internal powerful pro-Soviet inclinations of Latvian people, mostly workers and peasants. And all the Latvian army, without any resisting, automatically became a member of the Red Army. In addition, during the Soviet era local authorities consisted almost entirely of ethnic Latvians.
Sovereignty of Latvia suffered more during the “independent” republic, which was proclaimed after 1991. For me, an important factor of welfare is the demographic situation. So, during the existence of the second independent Latvia, the country lost more than 650 000 people, while in the Soviet era onlu in Latvia the growth of population was 620 000 inhabitants. As for repression, then, yes, they were. But they were not carried along ethnic, but along class grounds, and they were implemented with the participation of representatives of the Working Guard, which included many ethnic Latvians.
Tatyana Zhdanok has been a MEP for 10 years - what has been achieved during these period apart from Visa-free movement in Schengen zone for non-citiziens?
Tatiana Zhdanok successfully represents the interests of the Russian community in Latvia, being the deputy of European Parliament. She is actively working to create a peaceful and constructive dialogue between Russia and Europe, and that is the reason why she has formed Russian European Alliance, which is a unique platform for discussion and exchange of opinions of all Russian communities in Europe.
With the support of her colleagues in the European Free Alliance Tatiana Zhdanok organized an exhibition “Russians in Latvia”, which was held in the European Parliament at 2009. In fact, for the first time at the European level it has been demonstrated that the Russian community in Latvia has a long and rich history. It was shown that Russian population is an indigenous population of Latvia together with Latvians.
As the result of this historical exhibition the Institute of Russian Cultural Heritage (its director is well-known Latvian politician and publicist Miroslav Mitrofanov) was found. Its experts and authors write biographical articles about prominent Russian personalities of Latvia at different historical periods.
Today the homepage of Institute russkie.lv contains a rich collection of articles on Russian culture, representing encyclopedia of Russian history of Latvia. I also work in this Institute.
In January 2014 Tatyana Zhdanok held an exhibition on topical issues "Formation of democracy or rehabilitation of Nazism - Baltic at a crossroads". Being the member of a working group, I have also participated in its preparation. This exhibition was dedicated to the spread of neo-Nazi sentiments in the Baltic countries, but it was unfairly banned by officials of the European Parliament, which was their scandalous decision. Nevertheless, the exhibition was successful and had a great resonance.
During her work Tatiana Zhdanok organized 23 trips of delegations of students and activists of Headquarters of Russian Schools Defense in the European Parliament in order to draw attention to the problem of Russian education in Latvia, over which hangs a real threat of liquidation. Tatiana Zhdanok organizes competitions for students on history, mathematics and literature. As a reward the winners go on a trip to Europe.
To do this, the fund “Tatyana Zhdanok For Russian schools” was based. She also supports the “Total Dictation” in Latvia. The third year she provides the prize fund.
In March 2014 Tatiana Zhdanok made of the hearing in the Committee on Petitions, which considered the case of parents Laila Brice and Elena Antonova, whose children were forcibly removed (in UK and Holland) from their native families and placed in adoptive families. During this process the guardianship and the social service of UK have grossly violated the law and failed to inform the Latvian officials about the act of such rude lowlessness. At the same time, the Latvian diplomats also were deaf to the problem of Latvian citizens who became the victims of unfair juvenile technologies. After the picket next to the British Embassy at the 19 of March (I was one of the organizers of this protest actions) and hearings, where Laila, Elena and other parents told their stories, the situation began to change. British welfare authorities began to reconsider the case of Laila Brice, and the Latvian diplomats began to support her.
Tatiana Zhdanok is one of the first and almost the only Latvian politician who supported the rights of the Crimean people to self-determination.
These are just some of the merits of Tatyana Zhdanok on the post of MEP. With regard to visa requirements for non-citizens Tatiana together with representatives of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs affected the visa-free regime for non-citizens of Latvia in the UAE in 2013. Tatyana Zhdanok is actively acting in her fraction “Greens/European Free Aliance”, doing different things in the sphere of the defense of human rights.
You have said about the exhibition regarding "neonazizm" in Latvia - isn't it exaggerated? Of course, there is a very influential nationalist party (VL-TB/LNNK), but neonazizm? Are the marched of March 16 "neo-Nazi" or rather anti-communist / anti-Soviet?
I do not think this is an exaggeration. In fact in Latvia (as in Lithuania and Estonia) Nazi criminals are glorifies. The monuments, dedicated to people who covered the retreat of Nazi troops in the offensive of the liberating Red Army, were opened in Jelgava (1995) and Bauska (2013). The leaders of the state annually lay flowers on the grave of Inspector-General of the Latvian Waffen SS troops Rudolf Bangersky. Herbert Cukurs, who participated in the massacre of the Jews, in some circles is considered to be a national hero. In 2007, under the false pretext the Bronze Soldier was dismantled in Tallin. Yes, the outrageous young neo-Nazi march in the city center is held on March 16 in Riga. During this march, which takes place under official flags of the Baltic countries the acts of Latvian SS Legion are symbolically praised and the flowers in honor of the Nazi soldiers are assigned to the foot of the Freedom Monument, which was founded on the basis of donations os different people including Jewish families, who were shot by Latvian collaborators in the surrounding ditches. The Red Army liberated Europe from the virus of Nazism and because of this Latvian nation can exist. Otherwise, according to the plan of Alfred Rosenberg, Latvians would de sentenced to the slave fate.
Your party strongly supports idea of Russian as a EU official language even without such status in Latvia and Estonia. On the other hand You stand for Russian as a regional language in Latvian towns and Latgalia. Could You explain how do You imagine implementation of these demands? Do You accept the idea of the chairman of the Association of Poles in Latvia Ryszard Stankiewicz to make Polish regional language in Latgalia?
Yes, we are in favor of the official status of the Russian language in the European Union, as it would contribute to psychological comfort of Russian-speaking residents of the European space and it would really help to establish a bilateral dialogue between Russia and Europe.
We stand for the official status of the Russian language in Latvia. The problem is that till today the Russian language is evaluated as “foreign”, that is absolutely unacceptable and even absurd, because there are cities where the Russian-speaking population is 70 – 80% (Latgale). Thus, the repressive language policy, which is lead by Latvian authorities (the linguistical discrimination against Russian speakers), does not correspond to real language situation and even goes against it. In my philological opinion, the more regional languages exist, the more comfortable and more favorable psychological climate in society is. I would even argue that to enhance the prestige of Latgalian language, that is unfortunately currently downgraded to a language of family communication mostly among representatives of older generation, Latgalian by all means should have the official status of a regional language. I sincerely believe that the Polish population in Latgale should use their full linguistic rights and this is the reason why Polish should be recognized as an official language in Latgale as well. Linguistic diversity is a national treasure of any country and everyone has the right to apply his mother tongue in all spheres of activity. The problems of language discrimination must be solved at the legislative level, and as a linguist I understand the complexity and importance of this issue. In Latvia giving Russian language (as well as Latgalian and Polish) official status is possible through legislation. A referendum held in 2012 clearly showed that there is a demand for this legislative change.
You often use the term "Russian-speaking community" instead of "Russian community" or "Belarussian community" - aren't You concerned as a Belarussian that Belarussians or Ukraininas can lose their identity (language for exapmle) and merge into formless "Russian speaking community"?
In the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union traditional lingua franca was Russian, which in any case did not trouble the development of national cultures of Belarusians, Ukrainians, Latvians and others. There is an important factor of belonging to the Russian culture, to Russian spiritual sphere. I am Belorussian myself and, being brought upon Russian culture, I consider myself to be both Belarusian and Russian.
Your party has been strongly engaged in supporting Krim, Abkhazia and Osetia independence. Aren't You afraid that it can be a thread to Latvia - as in some regions of Your country national minorities are in majority? Would You support as a politician of Russian Union of Latvia secession of Narva region in Estonia or Daugavpils region in Latvia?
Russian Union of Latvia supports and respects the fundamental principles of international law. When Georgia without cause implemented brutal military aggression against the civilian population of South Ossetia (and also against the Russian peacekeepers stationed in the territory of Ossetia by mutual agreement), the Russian army came to defend the civilians and peacekeepers. Further South Ossetia and Abkhazia have exercised their right, established in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and declared their independence, so they did not want to continue to live in the state which is under the control of unpredictable aggressor, who ordered the massacre of people. In Crimea the situation is similar. We know that in Kiev after days of riots through unconstitutional coup d'état the right-wing radicals came to power. Definite statements and actions of individuals form these organizations caused a serious preoccupation of Crimeans, who were feeling really unsafe. Realizing this, the inhabitants of the Crimea made their honest and free choice to join the Russian Federation in a democratic conditions, and a single drop of blood was shed. Members of the Russian Union of Latvia Tatiana Zhdanok and Miroslav Mitrofanov attended as observers on the will of the multinational Crimean people who took advantage of their essential right to self-determination in accordance with all the key points of international law.
With regard to Daugavpils and Latgale, here we must realize that Latvia can develop and prosper only being a united country. Society in the country is divided into right and powerless, citizens and non-citizens. Alas, it is sharply divided along ethnic lines. First of all we must work on effective rallying of Latvian society which may happen after elimination of the infringement of the rights of national communities. If there is the government, which is responsible to all residents of Latvia, and not only to a part of it, if it pursues a balanced policy and productive economic strategy towards all regions of Latvian Republic, we all will be well within the same country.
The same applies to the situation with Narva region, where in 1993 a referendum was held on the establishment of Russian territorial autonomy. At this referendum the majority of residents were in favor of disconnection. This was done in a context of the “parade of sovereignties”, when many national regions of Soviet Union declared their independence. However, the official Estonian authorities did not support the will, and the odious Russian President Yeltsin ignored the results of referendum. There is an obvious manifestation of double standards. Today Estonia should develop this region, which really sufersf a lot from economic depression that provokes social upheaval. The level of unemployment is extemely high in Narva, the industry breathes its last. To find economic issues in depressed areas to prevent separatist aspirations is the main task of the Latvian and Estonian authorities.
You have talked about the right of Crimean people to self-determination. Wouldn't such a principle violate another international principle - territorial integrity? Aren't You scared that we are breaking now the taboo and opening Pandora's box?
The fact is that the principle of the territorial integrity was outraged by the Western countries, when they have compulsively lobbied the independence of Kosovo, and it is not the only example. Most recently, under the guise of the Western leaders the South Sudan has been hailed. So the “Pandora's box” has already been opened by the Americans and their allies long before the Crimean referendum. And the separation of the Baltic countries from the Soviet Union was, to put it mildly, not quite legitimate. So why Latvia dares to deny the right of other nations to self-determination if she herself twice (in 1918 and 1991) took advantage of this right, having less historical basis for this than the Crimea today? By the way, if we talk about the historical realities, the Crimea in 1954, being Russian native land, was donated by Nikita Khrushchev to the Ukrainian SSR to consolidate his personal position in the hierarchy of the Communist Party of USSR. Unlike Kosovo, Latvia and the Ukraine itself in the early 1990s, the referendum in Crimean Autonomy was conducted by local people fairly, legally and openly, and it was provoked by the political chaos that reigned in Kiev after the president of Ukraine, officially recognized by Europe, was overthrown by use of force.
Russian Union of Latvia is a member of European Free Alliance in European Parliament. Do You support ideas of Your colleagues from Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, Eusko Alkartasuna or Bloque Nacionalista Galego to make these regions independent or to broaden the autonomy from the government of
The possible extension of the sovereignty of the Catalan, Galician and Basque peoples and even the declaration of their independence is a very topical issue. Nevertheless, we are aware that these issues should be resolved through a free referendum of these peoples. Another thing is that the Madrid government has greatly complicated the procedure for holding referenda, which is unfair, as the access of the peoples living in Spain to the levers of democratic influence is seriously limited. In order to hold a referendum on any issue, the residents of Autonomous communities are forced to seek the permission at the center, and it is wrong. First we need to simplify the procedure for referenda, and only then the peoples inhabiting the Autonomous community of Spain must collect signatures for initiation of referenum themselves, to lead it and to vote in accordance with their moods, preferences and beliefs. In any case, international law does not prohibit, but in contrary, gives the right of people to self-determination, and if the cultural and historical tradition conditions the desire for self-determination, we must admit it.
Thank You very much. Good luck to You at the 24th of May!
Russian Union of Latvia The list №12/11.