«There is no offer for them». 73% of Russian-speaking Latvian inhabitants share European values, but want to preserve Russian language and culture Спектр
Вторник, 25 июня 2024
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«There is no offer for them». 73% of Russian-speaking Latvian inhabitants share European values, but want to preserve Russian language and culture

Фото EPA/Toms Kalnins/Scanpix/LETA Фото EPA/Toms Kalnins/Scanpix/LETA

The overwhelming majority of Russian-speaking residents of Latvia are Europeans when it comes to their views, and that is exactly how they see themselves. They feel strong attachment to their home country but are totally reluctant to change their identity: they cherish the Russian culture and language.  Such three main conclusions can be made based on the results of a sociological study organized by the online magazine SPEKTR.PRESS and executed by the SKDS Public Opinion Research Centre with the support of the Dutch Embassy and the Swedish Embassy in Latvia.

The survey was conducted across the whole of the Latvian territory in July-August 2020. During the survey consisting of three rounds (two series of face-to-face interviews and one online questionnaire), there were collected data from about 3 thousand respondents. The respondents’ answer to the question of what their native language or the language spoken at home was, served as a criterion for the focus group recruitment. Thus, the opinions of 1,100 permanent residents of Latvia (both citizens and non-citizens) covering an age range between 18 and 75 years, for whom Russian is the native or spoken- at- home language, were selected and studied.

SPEKTR.PRESS together with the SKDS focused their research on ideas and values prevailing in the population group that makes up more than two thirds of the Latvian society. «We set ourselves a goal to find out how numerous within the Russian community of Latvia there was a group of those who, without denouncing their native Russian language and cultural identity, would identify themselves as Europeans and be strongly committed to such European values as human rights, free market, personal integrity, rejection of discrimination in all its forms and manifestations. These are the people who justifiably could be referred to as the Russian-speaking Europeans of Latvia. That said, we did not mean to compare the ethnic Latvians and Russian speakers of Latvia in terms of their level of Euro-optimism», Anton Lysenkov, editor-in-chief of SPEKTR.PRESS, explained.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights served as the basis for the core set of questions posed in the survey questionnaire. Answers to the questions were evaluated in points enabling the researchers to develop, as a result, a kind of a scoring table. The key information was contained in three questionnaire items where the respondents were asked to assess (choosing one answer out of four) their satisfaction level with the fact of Latvia joining the EU, NATO, and the Euro area. Another question dealt with the degree to which the respondents would be ready to support unfair, possibly even rigged elections, if a candidate or party they were in favour of had won. The respondents were also asked if they would be likely to justify closure of mass media outlets considered undesirable by the state authorities, capital punishment, total ban on abortions, or any type of discrimination. Another set of questions was meant to assess readiness to accept official endorsement of same-sex marriages, tolerance towards the EU migration policy of letting in migrants, compliance with the laws, even seemingly unfair. The questionnaire also addressed the respondents’ choice of priorities if they were to choose between the rights of an individual or the society/state interests, religious values, or liberal freedoms.

Proceeding from their total scores of awarded points, the respondents were divided into 2 main groups: individuals «not supportive of the European values» (further falling into the sub-groups of those «completely unsupportive of the European values» and those «less supportive of the European values») and individuals «supportive of the European values» (further falling into the sub-groups of those «rather supportive of the European values» and those who were «fully supportive of the European values»).

It deserves to be mentioned that there were only four respondents representing the first category of those «completely unsupportive of the European values», so, for convenience of analysis, they were grouped together with the next category of respondents into one cluster of 300 people «not supportive of the European values». However, those «fully supportive of the European values»» also happened to be relatively few: there were only 100 such respondents. Together with the largest group of 700 survey participants «rather supportive of the European values» they formed a joined cluster of respondents «supportive of the European values». Thus, the share of people «not supporting the European values» amounted to 27% of the total number of the Russian-speaking respondents (including those 0.4% who «do not support the European values at all», whereas the respondents «supportive of the European values» comprised an overwhelming 73% majority of the study participants (including 9% of those «fully supportive of the European values»).

Характеристика респондентов, чей основной язык (родной или главный разговорный в семье) русский, по их европейской ценностной ориентации. Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


Based on the findings obtained through the survey it is possible to generate a combined typical profile of a Russian-speaking Latvian resident. It would normally be a young person aged 18−34, most likely holding a higher education degree and whose income would vary from medium high to high. Such an individual was most likely to reside in the regions of Vidzeme or Zemgale and, strange as it may seem, not in an urban area, but in the countryside.

There is some discrepancy between the respondents’ self-assessed values-based orientation and their actual commitment to the European values which testifies to the fact that the «European-mindedness» is far from being a self-evident concept (at least) for the Russian-speaking residents of Latvia. Two thirds of the respondents (65%, to be more precise) consider themselves European when it comes to their world outlook and system of values. And even almost half (48%) of those respondents whose real values are not the European ones according to the study methodology, deem themselves European. Among those who are «rather supportive of the European values» 67% of respondents acknowledged their values-based orientations, whereas the share of such people seeing themselves as European amounted to 93% among those who were «fully supportive of the European values». However, 22% of all respondents did not identify themselves as European.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


When the survey participants were asked about their attitude towards Russia’s actions in Eastern Ukraine, 24% of all respondents admitted they were rather supportive or strongly supportive of those actions with 39% not supporting them. Among those who were found to be «rather supportive of the European values», «positive» and «negative» attitudes towards Russia’s actions were distributed in the ratio of 22% to 41%, whereas among those found to be «fully supportive of the European values» that distribution stood at 12% to 61%. Although there is a wide variation of responses on the issue of the EU sanctions against Russia, they were not supported by the majority in any of the groups. Notably, 68% of all respondents opposed the sanctions, and there were even more opponents (69%) among the «rather supportive of the European values», with 45% of respondents from the group that «fully supported the European values» also opposing them. As expected, there were more opponents of the sanctions among those who «did not support the European values» — 75%. Only 15% of the total sample approved of the sanctions in general. The same proportion of respondents approving of the sanctions was found among those who were «rather supportive of the European values» with the respondents «fully supportive of the European values» being more tolerant towards them (36% of «pro-sanctions» respondents).

Nevertheless, there is a factor uniting all Russian speakers unconditionally: that is their sense of belonging to the cultural space of the Russian language. This was generally confirmed by 84% of all respondents, and only 11% denied their belonging to that cultural space. Among the group of respondents «rather supportive of the European values» the above ratio stood at 85% to 11%, and as far as the «fully supportive» were concerned, it was 84% to 14%.

Moreover, regardless of their attitude towards the European values, income and educational background the majority of all the identified groups would like to have an opportunity to receive education in their native language (although younger respondents would insist on that less than others). According to the study results, having such an opportunity is considered important by 88% of all the survey participants, including 90% of those who were «rather supportive of the European values» and 89% of the «fully supportive».

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


It must be said, however, that knowledge of languages, such as Latvian and English, varies in the Russian-speaking community depending on age, education level and income. Only 1% of respondents admitted that they did not know Latvian at all (notably, there were no such individuals among the respondents «fully supportive of the European values»). Forty seven percent of the total number of respondents rated their knowledge of Latvian as «good» and «very good», including 50% of those who were «rather supportive» and 56% of the «fully supportive of the European values». The situation with English is worse. Twenty five percent of all respondents admitted not knowing it at all, as well as the same proportion of the «rather supportive» and 8% of the «fully supportive». The proportion of all respondents who rated their command of English as «good» and «very good» equalled 18%, including 17% of the «rather supportive»» and 39% of the participants «fully supportive of the European values».

When asked what country or territorial unit they associated themselves with, 68% of all respondents named Latvia. It was indicated as the land they belonged to by 73% of the «rather supportive»» and 76% of the «fully supportive». Fourteen percent of all the survey participants felt connected with Russia, including 21% of those who «did not support the European values», 13% of the «rather supportive» and only 1% of the «fully supportive». The European Union, as has already been mentioned, did not prove to become the «soil» where the Russian-speaking residents of Latvia felt «rooted». Only 5% of all respondents as well as the same proportion of the «rather supportive» and 11% of the «fully supportive» felt they belonged to the EU.

And yet, 70% of all the respondents expressed their satisfaction with Latvia’s membership of the EU  (including 78% of the «rather supportive» and 98% of the «fully supportive»).

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


A different attitude was shown toward Latvia’s replacement of its independent currency.  Thus, only 52% of all respondents (including 59% of the «rather supportive» and 90% of the «fully supportive») approved of the country having joined the Euro area. Notably, the North European Alliance (NATO) enjoys much less popularity among the Russian speakers of Latvia, as only 32% of the study participants (including 36% of the «rather supportive» and, contrary to expectations, only 68% of the «fully supportive») expressed their satisfaction with the fact that Latvia was a NATO member.

Speaking of responses to values-based questions, we will mention only the figures that looked surprising to us. The Russian-speaking Latvian residents demonstrated close to unanimous commitment to democratic principles. Only 9% of all respondents would be ready to support unfair elections. It is noteworthy, however, that individuals holding the same opinion could be found even among those who were «fully supportive of the European values» (there were 3% of them).

The Russian speakers also turned out to be ardent supporters of gender equality: only 10% of all survey participants would be willing to back complete ban on abortion, while 77% would oppose such a ban. Nonetheless, even among the respondents «fully supportive of the European values» there could be found some proponents of the «complete ban» (1%).

Only 8% of all respondents would be ready to put up with the state attack on free speech. It is worth mentioning here that among the respondents «fully supportive of the European values» there was not much smaller a proportion of those who would accept the decision by the state authorities to close or block some mass media (6%). However, the number of unconditional opponents of such a move by the government was also the largest in that group of respondents -69%, while 52% would oppose an attack on free speech within the entire sample.

The majority of the Russian-speakers in Latvia stand for justice. Seventy three percent of all respondents, as well as 81% of those who were rather committed to the European values and 100% of the fully committed respondents agreed with the statement that any type of discrimination was totally unacceptable. Only 17% of all study participants as well as 12% from the group of the «rather supportive of the European values» would find this or that form of discrimination admissible, but none of those who «fully support the European values» would justify it in any form.

The studied group, however, turned out not to be very humane. Almost one third of the respondents (30%) would, in general, support death penalty, and even among those who shared all the European values completely there were 8% ready to put up with legal killing at the behest of the government.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


Furthermore, the respondents tended to show even less tolerance when faced with the question on migrants. Only 14% of the study participants believed that migrants could be allowed to enter the European Union. This opinion was shared by 13% of the «rather supportive of the European values» and 45% of people who fully adhered to those values, although 39% of the latter group were against admission of migrants to the EU. Even less support was shown toward the LGBT-community with only 12% of all respondents, 10% of the «rather supportive» and 56% of the «fully supportive» being ready to back official recognition of same-sex marriages (while 35% of the latter were against such official recognition).

The distribution of the survey results concerning the choice between the individual rights and the society or national interests was quite remarkable with only a minority of respondents — 48% of the whole sample- believing that the individual rights should prevail over the national interests. National interests were prioritized by 34% of all respondents while 18% of them found it difficult to decide. Forty nine percent of participants from the group of the «rather supportive of the European values» and 81% of the «fully supportive» opted in favour of the individual rights.

The group turned out to be atheistic in general: religious values were preferred to liberal freedoms only by 37% of all respondents (while 39% of them opted for liberal freedoms), 30% of the «rather supportive», and the respondents «fully supportive of the European values» demonstrated their materialistic mindset with just 3% of them being in favour of religious values. Sixty four percent of all the survey participants, including 71% of the «rather supportive» and 78% of the «fully supportive of the European values» would agree to abide by laws even if the laws were unjust. At the same time, 10% of those who fully shared the European values would find unchallenged rule of law unacceptable.

The survey participants were also asked to name any Latvian politicians or public figures they trusted. It was an open-ended question with no multiple-choice options for the answers offered. And that is how those who can be called the «Russian-speaking Europeans of Latvia»- the survey respondents categorized as «supportive of the European values» — rated high-profile individuals in terms of their trustworthiness. As expected, Nil Ushakov appeared at the top of the list. He was named by 16% of all respondents. Aivars Lembergs, mayor of Ventspils, who had never declared either his commitment to the European values or shown any support for the Russian-speaking electorate, took the second place with 10% of respondents choosing him. Then, lagging considerably behind there followed Tatyana Zhdanok (4%) — member of the European Parliament from the Latvian Russian Union. The next were Prime Minister Krišjānis Kāriņš («Ņew Unity») and Health Minister Ilze Viņķele («Development/For!») with 3%. They were followed by Raimonds Pauls, Egils Levits, Oleg Burov, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and Andris Ameriks, all of them being named by 2% of respondents.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


Other high-profile personalities hardly received 1% of the respondents’ votes. It is noteworthy that 39% of the study participants oriented towards the European values signalled that they trusted nobody among the Latvian political elite, while 18% of respondents found the question difficult to answer. All of this may mean that the place for a political force or leader capable of becoming a mouthpiece for the given segment of Latvia’s population is still vacant.

We asked some of the leading Latvian political scientists and sociologists to familiarize themselves with the study report and share with us which data, as reflected in the tables, would have surprised them, or attracted their attention.

Professor, Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Latvia Juris Rosenvalds:

-        I would pose some of the questions differently. When it comes to  (in)admissibility of discrimination, different types of it are evaluated differently by different groups of people, and we should not get these things confused. When a person claims that you cannot discriminate people because of their sexual orientation, this is completely in tune with the European values. But when we talk about ethnic discrimination, then somebody who has admitted facing problems with the Latvian language, for example, may decide that his is exactly the case (of ethnic discrimination — translator’s note). I am not saying there is none in this case, but we are not discussing any European values here».

And if we take the question about the same-sex marriages that you are asking… If we bear in mind the discussion which is presently unfolding in our society, it may even look funny when some people waving, so to speak, the constitution (that they themselves have just changed) in our faces, say:

‘It’s also written here that marriage is a union between a man and a woman’. For example, Archbishop of Riga Zbigniew Stankevich on Latvian television… Therefore, I think that in this case it would be good to separate the attitude towards the same-sex marriages and the issue of regulating cohabitation. I believe some part of the society perceives the institution of marriage as an extremely serious one. And yet, they would agree to legally formalize (cohabitation) relationships.

There are two things that have piqued my interest. They clearly show that the language policies of the Latvian state severely alienate the Russian speakers. Firstly, it becomes obvious that despite all the differences between those who share the European values and those who reject them, both the groups are unanimous in their disapproval, putting it mildly, of the state authorities’ attitude towards the Russian speakers in Latvia. All groups emphasize the need for education in one’s mother tongue. This protest unites a highbrow intellectual and a person with an incomplete secondary education.

Another point (of interest) concerns the youngest survey participants in the age group from 18 to 24. These young people have already joined the       workforce and entered public life. Unlike older groups following them (ages 25 to 34 years and 35 to 44 years) they are the least likely to have any sense of belonging to Latvia. Simultaneously, the group includes most of those people who feel connected with countries outside the European Union. And not only Russia, but other ones. Besides, expressly negative attitude towards sanctions against Russia is more prevalent in this group than in the 3 older age groups.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS


These tendencies require a more serious scrutiny, but I have a hypothesis. A historian of American immigration Marcus Lee Hansen formulated a so-called third generation law before the II World War. The major life motif of the first and second generation of immigrants is gratitude to their new homeland for having accepted them, given them work and an opportunity for a better life. But the third generation — the grandchildren of those migrants — already feel entitled to all those benefits taking them for granted, and they start seeking other rationales to identify with. When I looked at those numbers, I had a feeling that the youngest generation (partly because of their age) was orientated towards a kind of a rebellion.

And this testifies to the fact that our state integration policy has failed. They lack any sense of belonging to this society. Let us just look at how they evaluate their knowledge of Latvian — worse than the two age groups following them. The difference here is insignificant, but these are the children who went to school after the first school language reform and, theoretically, they should not have any problems with the language. Although, I do not exclude the possibility of them being more self-critical».

-        So, do you believe all this indicates alienation and possible radicalization rather than them being citizens of the world ready to set off for any other place at any moment?

-        This is also possible. And again, it is interesting that when asked whether they felt connection with any definite territory, a good many of them chose «it’s difficult to say». Sixty two percent associate themselves with Latvia, which is by 10% less than the share of those identifying themselves with Latvia in the following group of respondents. And, as far as Russia is concerned, the difference here lies within the margin of a statistical blip. I would pay special attention to this age group. They are the children born in the independent Latvia. And these numbers tell us to what extent our policies have been a success.

-        How would you comment on Aivars Lembergs inclusion in the pro-European Russian speakers’ list of opinion leaders?

-        Ventspils is a beautiful, clean, well-kept, and orderly town. A colleague of mine, Valts Kalniņš, makes an assertion based on his research, that when asked whether it is good to steal Latvian inhabitants would all say: «Of course it’s bad!» Yet, when asked what they would think of a person who is quite likely to steal but shares with others (and we are talking about Lembergs and people like him here) then it turns out that corruption can be put up with. The average man or woman in the street is not a philosopher to take their piece of reasoning to its logical conclusion.

Aivars Lembergs was first elected mayor of Ventspils in 1988. Since 2007, he has been formally removed from his post and relieved of his duties due to the criminal proceedings started a year earlier on illegal privatization, bribery, money laundering and forgery by an official. However, there was no progress in solving the case for years, and Lembergs was regularly re-elected, most recently in 2017. In 2019, the prosecution demanded an eight-year prison sentence for Lembergs, and the US Treasury imposed sanctions against him and the Ventspils port under the Magnitsky law. Nonetheless, not a single charge was brought to a final conviction, and Lembergs» guilt in court has not been proven yet. His family’s fortune is estimated at 120 million euros (a note by SPEKTR.PRESS). 

Doctor of Communications Sciences, researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia, expert of the European Centre for Political Analysis Mārtiņš Kaprāns:

-  This study, as it seems, can boast the largest Russian speakers sample selected over the last 5 years. Normally, they did not use to exceed 400 people in this country. Therefore, the data are truly reliable, in my opinion. I expected the differences in attitudes towards teaching in Russian at schools to be slightly larger between those who «fully supported the European values» and the other groups. But there is no difference whatsoever. Although, on the other hand, this is not surprising, as when it comes to cultural identity, the difference between various clusters disappears as well.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS

Strictly speaking, it is the Russophonic cultural identity that serves as a consolidating basis for the Russian-speaking community, which is not reflected in their perception of territorial affiliation: despite the fact the Russian speakers strongly identify with the Russian culture and language, they admit their closer connection with Latvia than Russia or any other territorial entities, and this is true for all the groups.

There was a small detail, however, that came as the biggest surprise to me — that is the appearance of Krišjānis Kāriņš on the trustworthiness rating list of the high-profile personalities. The top-3 there are traditional. It seems to me, Tatyana Zhdanok used to be ranked lower at times. But it is important to remember here that the question was open-ended. People spoke spontaneously, whatever popped into their minds. Thus, from the point of view of methodology the list is much more reliable than it would have been had we offered (the respondents) to make their choice from a ready-made list of some 10 names.

If, for the sake of verification, we offered the same people to vote on their list now, Ushakov’s rating would probably peak at over 50%. Lembergs would also receive a few tens of percent — he has always been highly appreciated among the Russian-speakers. But he is also quite highly valued by the Latvians, although not as highly (as by the Russian speakers). So, if we are talking about a generally approved character with strong authority (apart from Raimonds Pauls), it would be Aivars Lembergs. But Krišjānis Kāriņš being ranked fourth! This is especially surprising, if we take into consideration that some of the most active Russian politicians, like Andrei Mamykin for example, tried hard to discredit him as much as possible, mentioning his double citizenship and things like that.

-        The President also features on the list. Isn’t that even more surprising?

-        Well, Levits has a backstory. With all his «Preambule» (to the Constitution of Latvia — note by SPEKTR.PRESS) and provocative national ideas, he had already been quite well known to a certain part of the Russian speakers. Kāriņš started to be recognizable in that audience only when he became Prime Minister. Aldis Gobzems’ name is also on the list, which I like. I wonder what channels he uses to address the Russian speakers if it is a known fact that he does not speak Russian with them. Nonetheless, it only does him credit, if he has been able to mobilize some of those voters. There were a lot of Alexey Ledyaev’s New Generation Church members at his rally. That is a special section of the electorate. I believe, identity issues are secondary to them, or to be more precise, apart from language and culture, other identity elements are important to them… (He is) a kind of Šlesers» reincarnation…

While interviewing the largest of these clusters — those who are «rather supportive of the European values» — you should really be careful. When it comes to geopolitical issues, they are often closer to pro-Kremlin narratives and tend to support Russia’s geopolitical interpretation rather than that coming from Brussels. This becomes evident from the attitude towards NATO. These people are quite pragmatic. When economic issues are on the agenda, they prefer to position themselves as pro-European. Sometimes, they may demonstrate a relatively liberal stance towards immigration, they may hold cosmopolitan enough views, but when geopolitics is brought into play, they change sides. In all other questions except for cultural identification, this group of people is differentiated by and dependent on the context. When geopolitical tensions escalate (for example, the Georgia-Russia war, or a conflict in Ukraine breaks out), support for Russia grows among them and then declines when these conflicts subside. On the contrary, among those who do not share the European values, support for Russia is persistent all the time, although the group itself will dwindle in size a few years after the conflict is over. From the point of view of social psychology, this can be interpreted as a desire too always choose a somewhat more comfortable, secure position which would simultaneously reflect the opinions of our imaginary group majority.

Doctor of Political Science, Leading Researcher at the Latvian National Defence Academy Ieva Bērziņa:

-        The higher the education level, the stronger the commitment to the Europeans values and pro-Western stance. Nevertheless, two diagrams have taken me by surprise, and I am unable to interpret them without further research: the group of respondents with basic education reported higher satisfaction with the fact of Latvia having joined NATO than the other ones, although, according to logic, it should really have been the other way around.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS

And what I also find surprising is that people with basic education tend to show much weaker support than others for Russia’s actions in the East of Ukraine. Approval of Latvia’s membership in the Eurozone and European Union is lower in this group than among people with higher education, and this is in tune with the trend. Who are the people in this sample? I would assume they are 18 years old schoolchildren. The question is to be addressed to the SKDS — perhaps, they have an explanation. The age distribution with regards to the feeling of territorial affiliation also turned out to be surprising. We got used to the opinion that the older generation would be more pro-Russian. However, we do not see this here, which may mean that the level of education plays a greater role.

There is a relatively large part of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia who share the European values, and this, as it seems to me, is an important finding. The Russian speakers are a very heterogeneous part of the society in terms of their views and attitudes. It is noteworthy, that when it comes to the language and culture, there are no big differences between the groups, but when they need to choose between religious and liberal values, the division becomes obvious, we may even say, these are mutually exclusive value orientations. It is striking, that the level of trust in politicians is the lowest in the group of respondents who are fully supportive of the European values. These views, after all, also imply higher levels of engagement in political activities. Evidently, there is no offer for them within the Latvian political spectrum. None of the political parties is good at working with this audience. Nonetheless, there is such an opportunity for the political parties, they just need to learn how to foster dialogue with that group.

Master of Law, Director and Lead Researcher of the «PROVIDUS» Centre for Public Policy Iveta Kažoka:

-        I have got a few observations. The Russian-speaking inhabitants of Latvia are far from being a homogenous audience. Despite the fact they, like ethnic Latvians, in general, share a highly positive attitude towards Europe and the European Union, there are several issues where the differences are dramatic. Number one is the attitude towards NATO, which the Russian speakers tend to perceive with greater skepticism than the Latvians. Then it is the language of instruction at school. Almost all the ethnic Latvians would say that in Latvia, children should be taught in Latvian, while the Russian-speaking residents insist that everyone should have the right to study in their native tongue.

In the same way as the ethnic Latvians, the Russian speakers of Latvia are being faced with a rapid succession of generations leading to some intergenerational value changes. First and foremost, it concerns the attitudes toward homosexuality — the older the person, the less likely he will be to support the idea of same-sex marriages. The second obvious indicator is the attitude toward religion: the older the person, the greater the importance of religion is to him. It seems to me, all this also depends on the information environment the person lives in — as well as the ethnic Latvian youth, the young Russian speakers have a good command of English.

Опрос русскоязычных жителей Латвии Июль-сентябрь 2020 SPEKTR SKDS

I was somewhat surprised that so many people (84%) live mainly in the Russian-speaking environment, and generational differences were not noticeable there. I would have assumed, the young people were mostly living in the English and Latvian information space, but that assumption was wrong. This means that for the Russian speakers of Latvia, the issue of access to the mass media and education in their native language will remain of paramount importance in the future as well.

The Russian speaking Latvian citizens feel as positive about the EU, as the (ethnic) Latvians. Non-citizens also tend to view the European Union positively, although their attitude is more sceptical. Thus, Latvia is one of the most Euro-optimistic countries in the EU. When it comes to the attitude towards NATO, usually there is a big gap between the linguistic communities.

There was only one question answering which the Russian speakers of Latvia signalled their alienation. When asked if they could name any politicians or public figures living in Latvia who they trusted, only less than half of the respondents were able to give any names. This shows the Russian speakers have practically no one to trust among the Latvian public policy (personalities). And if people have almost nobody to identify with, it shows some degree of alienation. But we do not know yet… It might also be high among the (ethnic) Latvians.

The editorial board of «SPEKTR» would like to extend its sincere gratitude to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Latvia and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Latvia for their support of our work on creation of this material.