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EU state begins expelling Russians

Russian citizens will be deported from Latvia by force if they don’t leave voluntarily, the country’s migration chief has said

Latvia has started expelling Russian citizen who failed to apply for a new residence permit in the EU country in time or failed to pass the language exam, the head of the national Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), Maira Roze, has announced.

Exit orders have so far been issued to six Russian citizens; two have already left the country’s territory, Roze said in an interview with the broadcaster LTV on Friday.

A total of 1,017 Russians have not complied with the requirements of the Latvian immigration law, she said. They’ll be handed orders to depart Latvia within 30 days, the PMLP chief added.

According to Roze, those who refuse to comply will be deported by force. Information on the Russians has already been passed on to Latvia’s border guard service, she said.

PMLP data suggests that out of the 1,017 Russians citizens in question, 213 had previously left Latvia through another European Union country.

In 2022, the Latvian parliament passed legislation mandating that residence permits issued to the Russians would expire on September 1, 2023 unless they obtained a certificate proving that they were proficient in the local language.

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Roze said late last year that a total of 15,500 Russian citizens had applied for new temporary Latvian residence permits before the deadline, while around 3,000 others requested permission for permanent residency. Most of them successfully passed the language exam, but more than a thousand failed it or didn’t show up for the test at all.

The PMLP chief also insisted at the time that the planned deportation of the Russians had nothing to do with the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, in which Latvia fully backs Ukraine. Around 350 citizens of Russia are expelled from the country every year in full compliance with its laws, she said.

In January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned the authorities in Riga that the planned deportations represent an “openly criminal” treatment of the people, adding that Moscow will “not forget and not forgive” those responsible for this “evil act.”

As for those who are ejected from Latvia, proper living conditions will be provided to them in Russia, she promised.

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Latvia, which had a pre-independence population of nearly 2.7 million, is now home to approximately 1.8 million and like its fellow Baltic states, is projected to lose upwards of 20% of its current population by 2050. Despite these woes, the country has exhibited hostility to its ethnic Russian minority, which currently comprises around 25% of the population. Among other things, Russians who were born in Latvia when it was part of the Soviet Union were issued “non-citizen” passports, which prevented them from voting or working in certain jobs.

March 09, 2024 at 03:16PM

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