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4 May, 2023 11:42

EU state looking to outlaw ‘pro-Russian’ views

Those “disloyal” to Latvia shouldn’t be allowed to work for the state, a high-ranking MP has insisted
EU state looking to outlaw ‘pro-Russian’ views

A draft law banning government employees in Latvia from expressing pro-Russian views has been submitted to the country’s parliament, the Saeima, the legislature has announced on its website.

The Saeima’s National Security Commission decreed on Wednesday that lawmakers should vote on an amendment to the Baltic nation’s State Administration Structure Law that would oblige officials to be loyal to the Republic of Latvia and its constitution.

The move was made after a petition urging “Prohibit[ing] pro-Kremlin-minded persons from holding positions in the state and local government institutions,” collected more than 13,000 signatures.

The draft law calls for government employees to be barred from expressing public opinions or performing acts directed against the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of a democratic state or its constitutional system.

“Democracies must be able to protect their state, their Constitution and their citizens from external and internal threats. In order to do this, persons who are disloyal to Latvia and its Constitution shouldn’t be able to work in state and local government institutions,” Janis Dombrava the chairman of the National Security Commission, said.

The legislation will, among other things, prevent those whose activities are aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the interests of Russia from holding administrative jobs, according to Dombrava.

Latvia, along with fellow Baltic nations Lithuania and Estonia, has been among the staunchest supporters of Kiev amid its conflict with Moscow. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that US President Joe Biden had even “pressed” the leaders of the countries, which used to be part of the Soviet Union, over their fiery rhetoric and calls for Russia to be defeated on the battlefield in Ukraine.

In late April, the Saeima outlawed any celebrations of the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany in the World War II. Commemorative rallies, marches, and use of fireworks have been banned on May 9, which is the traditional day of such celebrations.

Those activities “undermine our values, split society, glorify military aggression and contribute to false coverage of historical events,” Ieva Brante, chair of the parliament’s Human Rights Commission, claimed.

Latvia has a population of 1.8 million people, of which around 450,000, or 24%, are ethnic Russians.