telegram channel Klymenko Time
11 August 2022 19: 00
Headings: World News Policy

What is behind the anti-Russian demarches of Latvia and Estonia?

The answer may lie in the intention of the Russian State Duma.

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What is behind the anti-Russian demarches of Latvia and Estonia?

Today the Saeima of Latvia recognized Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, as well as urged the EU countries to stop issuing visas to citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus.

Additionally, Estonia today decided, with some exceptions, to close the entrance to its territory for citizens of the Russian Federation, who have Schengen visas issued by that country.

Reaction the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was predictably tough. They said that the Latvian parliament "was guided by animal xenophobia, and the ideologists of this decision are neo-Nazis." Specific measures to respond to the decisions taken today in Latvia and Estonia, the Russian side, apparently, will announce in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said that EU countries are discussing to determine coordinated actions on the issue of issuing visas to Russian tourists and added that the EU must always issue visas to family members of EU citizens, journalists and humanitarian workers.

According to the Western press, the position of the rest of the EU states, except for the Baltic states, remains  more restrained. They do not plan to introduce a total ban on issuing visas to citizens of the Russian Federation.

But in this whole story, something else is much more interesting: why Latvia and Estonia began to raise the issue of a ban on the entry of Russian citizens into their territory right now?

The answer to this question may lie in the intention of the Russian State Duma in the fall to consider facilitating the visa regime and obtaining Russian citizenship for compatriots from the Baltic countries. 

Fact is that in Latvia, ethnic Russians make up 24,2% of the population. In the capital Riga, their share exceeds 38%. At the same time, 26,4% of Russian residents of Latvia have the status of a non-citizen (this means that they do not have the right to vote, cannot serve in government agencies, etc.). 

In Estonia, the share of the Russian population according to the 2021 census is 23,6% of the population. 5% of the total population of Estonia (mainly ethnic Russians) have the status of non-citizens. Estonia and Latvia remain the only countries both in the EU and in the former Soviet Union that have introduced the status of a non-citizen.

This circumstance allows Russia to play on the feelings of compatriots in the Baltic countries, using the potential granting of their citizenship to them as a way to influence the internal politics of Latvia and Estonia.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgar Rinkevich today said that the residents of the country who received Russian citizenship, henceforth, residence permits will not be issued and they will be forced to leave the territory of Latvia. 

This statement, as well as the measures to ban entry for citizens of the Russian Federation, as well as the recognition in Latvia of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, are most likely aimed specifically at stopping the alleged passportization by Moscow of the Russian population of the two Baltic states.

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