Those affected will be given 30 days to leave Latvia, the Baltic state’s migration chief has said
Latvia is planning to expel more than 1,000 Russian citizens, the head of the national Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), Maira Roze, has announced. Moscow previously warned that the deportations would be “a grave violation of international law” by the EU member.
The measure will affect Russian citizens who did not apply for a residence permit in time or failed to pass the Latvian language exam before the deadline, Roze told the TV3 broadcaster on Sunday.
“More than a thousand people are subject to deportation. We see that there are many of those who are late, who are still trying to submit papers for a temporary residence permit, but, unfortunately, we can only tell them: ‘You must leave,’” she said.
If a Russian citizen in Latvia “didn’t work, doesn’t have a family… has nothing for the sake of which to stay,” then they have no protection under the country’s laws, the PMLP chief insisted.
According to Roze, the Russian citizens affected will be given 30 days to leave Latvian territory. However, that term may be prolonged to up to a year under certain conditions, she added.
A total of 15,500 Russian citizens applied for a temporary Latvian residence permit before September 1, while around 3,000 others requested permission for permanent residency. Several thousand Russians did not submit their papers or failed their first Latvian language exam before that deadline, Roze said.
Many successfully passed the exam at the second attempt before November 30, although around 1,300 did not appear for the test at all, the official said. The Latvian authorities are yet to determine if the people in question are still in the country, as they may already have returned to Russia via neighboring Estonia or other EU nations, she stressed.
Roze implied that the upcoming deportations are not related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in which Latvia – as with the other Baltic States – has overwhelmingly backed Kiev. According to the PMLP chief, an average of 350 Russians are expelled from Latvia annually in full compliance with the law.
Last year, the Latvian parliament voted in a law demanding that all Russian citizens living in the country obtain a certificate to prove their command of the Latvian language by September 1, 2023, or face deportation.
When commenting on the issue in October, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that the expulsions would be “a grave violation of international.” The authorities in the Baltic State are pursuing “uncompromising Russophobic policies,” Zakharova stated in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
“This never-ending war with everything Russian and the struggle against with Russian-speaking residents of the country testifies to Riga’s inability to build a truly democratic and inclusive society,” she insisted.
December 18, 2023 at 08:12PM