Initiative to make Russian an official language closes in on target

With two days left in the campaign, supporters of amending Latvia’s constitution to make Russian the second official language are about 11,000 signatures short of meeting their target, according to new data released by the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

The campaign began Nov. 1 and as of Nov. 28 a total of 130,678 signatures have been recorded in the citizen initiative, the commission announced in a Nov. 29 press release. Added to the total will be 12,533 signatures submitted on a petition that began the initiative.

In all, supporters need 154,379 signatures—representing 10 percent of the eligible voters in the last parliamentary election—to get the proposed amendments before the Saeima. As of Nov. 28, they have nearly 93 percent of the total.

Observers commenting in Latvian media note that if the signature campaign is successful, the proposed legislation is likely to be defeated in the Saeima. Under the constitution, that would trigger a national referendum on the language issue.

Supporters of the measure, led by the pro-Russian organization “Dzimtā valoda,” want to amend five paragraphs in the constitution to give Russian equal status to Latvian. Under the constitution’s current language, Latvian is the only official language.

The signature campaign continues through Nov. 30 at local government offices in Latvia and at 39 embassies and consulates outside the homeland. A list of the locations abroad is available from the Central Election Commission’s website,

The Central Election Commission is to begin verifying the signatures on Dec. 1.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “Initiative to make Russian an official language closes in on target

  1. Ja krievu valoda bus apstiprinata ka otra officiala valoda Latvija, vai tad “Dievs Sveti Latviju” ari dziedas krievju valoda, jeb krievu himnu ari dziedas. Peks kam latvijas varoni centas peks latvijas brivibu, ja iekdienas latviesi brivpratigi tagad padosies ar laiku zem krievju varas ar paligu no latvijas krievu noskanotas saeimes laudiem.

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