Latvia’s non-citizens

On 23 March, roughly 400 people formed a non-citizens congress in the Latvian capital Riga, demanding full political rights for so-called “non-citizens”. This resulted from Latvia’s Russian minority voicing its anger over escalating institutional discrimination.

Nearly 300,000 people, 13% of Latvia’s population, have non-citizen status and as a result, have special passports and restrictions placed on their voting and employment rights, even though many of them were born and raised in Latvia.

“Despite numerous protests and the advice of many international organisations, very little progress has been made on this issue in more than 20 years,” according to Elizabete Krivcova, a human rights activist involved in the organisation. “At the current rate of naturalisation, it would take 100 years to remove the status of non-citizens.” Human rights groups and organisations including the United Nations and the OSCE have repeatedly criticised the discrimination against Latvia’s “non-citizens”.

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