Latvia fines mayor for Facebook posts in Russian

Riga's Mayor Nils Ušakovs has been fined by Latvia's State Language Centre for exchanging Facebook comments in Russian with inhabitants of the Latvian capital. Is this punishment justified?

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Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Overreaction of a Russophobic censor

The fine is pointless and does nothing to promote social cohesion, Neatkarīgā believes:

“Are Russians not allowed to speak Russian with each other now? That is going too far. And it only adds fuel to the fire. The Russian Internet and propaganda media will jump at the chance to exploit this provocation in their reporting on Latvia. Extreme xenophobia and Russophobia have become a sickness in recent times. The municipal authorities, the government, the Russians and the refugees are not to blame for everything bad in our lives. The State Language Centre has acted like a censor who scans the Web to see what Latvian officials are posting. Even in the dark days of the Soviet Union the Latvian language wasn't subjected to the sort of reprisals Russia now faces. And even 150 years after the Latin script was banned [in the region of the Russian Empire inhabited by the Latvians] the Latvian people has not died out.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

Even mayors must play by the rules

In response to the fine Ušakovs has published a caricature showing the State Language Centre adorned with the skull of an Australopithecus. That's going too far, Latvijas avīze believes:

“Nowadays European politicians no longer compare the shapes of skulls. Before Ušakovs' attempt at creativity, the Kremlin had already used anthropological arguments and claimed that Russians have a special genetic code. The core of the mayor's message is rooted ideologically in the same idea as Putin's genetic findings. ... Riga is the Latvian capital and the mayor should adapt his methods of communication to national policy, and not exacerbate the conflict with the State Language Centre. It's no coincidence that he has been praised by Moscow. No doubt that was also his aim.”