Latvians have resoundingly rejected the option of making Russian the country’s second official language, results from a referendum indicate.
About two-thirds of those registered voted, the election commission said, many more than in previous polls.
The referendum, initiated by a Russian speakers’ movement, has exposed deep fault-lines in Latvia.
Ethnic Russians, who make up about one-third of Latvia’s population, have long complained of discrimination.
But many ethnic Latvians believe the referendum was an attempt to encroach on the country’s independence.
It was initiated by the Russian-speakers’ movement, Native Tongue, which collected signatures from more than 10% of voters to force a ballot.
Officials said that with more than 90% of votes counted, 75% of votes cast in Saturday’s referendum were against the proposal. (Read more)
Russia critical of Latvia language vote
Moscow has criticised Latvia for rejecting Russian as a second language in a highly emotive referendum that exposed the tensions lingering in the Baltic nation since its years under Soviet rule.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Sunday the referendum’s outcome was biased because it excluded so many Russian-speaking “non-citizens” from the vote.
“The referendum’s results far from fully reflect national sentiments because 319,000 ‘non-citizens’ were denied the right to express their opinion, even though many of them were born in Latvia or have lived there a long time,” the ministry said. (Read more)