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Thousands in Riga protest against Russian schools being forced to teach in Latvian

A large-scale protest against Russian schools being forced to teach in the Latvian language was held in Riga on May 1, RIA Novosti reported. Between 7,000 and 10,000 took part in the march along the central Brivibas Street, organizers said. The demonstrators carried banners, reading: “Latvia is my country. Russian is my language,” and “Russian schools = peace in Latvia,” and chanted: “Hands off Russian schools.” According to a new law, all of the schools in the former Soviet state are to switch to Latvian by 2021. Despite Russian speakers making up around 40 percent of Latvia’s population of 2 million, Russian is considered a foreign language. Passing a language test is a strict requirement for receiving Latvian citizenship, which results in hundreds of thousands of people, mainly ethnic Russians, only having a ‘non-citizen’ passport and limited rights.