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16 Feb, 2024 16:49

EU state legalizes deportation of Russians

Moscow has described the decision by Latvia as “inhumane”
EU state legalizes deportation of Russians

Russian citizens holding permanent residence status in Latvia may be legally deported if they fail to pass a language exam, Riga’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday.

Moscow’s embassy in Riga responded by branding the decision “inhumane and ruthless,” warning that it will threaten thousands of Russians living in the Baltic country, whose average age is over 70.

The law, originally introduced to the Saeima, Latvia’s parliament, in September 2022, required all permanent residents to pass a Latvian language test before September 1 2023, or face deportation. The deadline was later extended by two years.

In its decision on Thursday, Latvia’s Constitutional court officially recognized the new law, arguing that it is necessary to “ensure state security.” It said, however, that decisions would be made on an individual basis and would focus on those who made “no efforts” to maintain their legal status in the country.

In a message posted on its official Telegram channel, the Russian Embassy in Riga claimed that the Latvian legal system is operating in “unconditional service to the opportunistic interests of the current ruling elite of Latvia, which, in an effort to ‘annoy’ Russia, does not hesitate to commit reprisals against elderly people – holders of Russian passports.”

The embassy argued that Russian citizens living in Latvia have already been “literally excluded from the life of the country” and may now be deprived of their right to remain or denied access to basic social benefits.

Russia accused Latvian legislators of lacking the courage to admit the “legal inconsistency of this draconian law, both in the moral and legal sense,” and instead trying to push all responsibility onto elderly Russian citizens, accusing them of unwillingness to learn the Latvian language.

“Judging by the text of the announced verdict, which was replete with politicized anti-Russian passages, ideological bias prevailed over common sense and legal argumentation,” the embassy’s statement concluded.

Meanwhile, Latvia’s Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that it will start seizing vehicles carrying Russian license plates in the country and will send them free of charge to Ukraine. The move comes after a deadline set by the Latvian government, which requires vehicles to be registered locally or removed from the country, expired on Wednesday.