How do Russians live in Latvia? Latvian policy towards the Russian-speaking population

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How do Russians live in Latvia? Latvian policy towards the Russian-speaking population
How do Russians live in Latvia? Latvian policy towards the Russian-speaking population

The joint Soviet past today closely binds only those people who live in the CIS countries. The situation is different in the state of Latvia, which, like all the former B altic republics of the USSR, is one of the members of the European Union. And every year there are fewer and fewer signs pointing to the Soviet past of these territories. More and more, Latvia is beginning not only to look European, but also to live according to Western priorities.

And how do our former compatriots feel? Russians in Latvia found themselves in new conditions, and those who wish to immigrate to this country first of all need to find out how comfortable living in it is for Russians.

Visa processing

How do Russians get to the B altic coast? To do this, you need to get a visa. It is the permission to enter and stay in the country. Visa to Latvia for Russians -Schengen. This is due to the fact that in 2004 the country joined the European Union. Consequently, for Russians, a visa to Latvia opens the way to the territory of all members of the Schengen Agreement.

Flag of Latvia and the European Union

Similar permission for our compatriots is of two types. It can be both short-term (Schengen) and long-term (national). The first of them is marked with the letter C, and the second - D.

Short-term Schengen visas are issued to those applicants who intend to make a short trip to the EU countries to visit relatives, for treatment, tourism and other private visits that have nothing to do with commercial activities. Such permissions, in turn, are of various types based on the following:

  • departure multiples - single, double, multiple;
  • validity period - from several days to several years;
  • from the number of days of stay - up to 3 months during one half year.

Those who plan to stay in Latvia for more than 90 days will need to obtain a national visa. It will allow you to go to this country to study or work.

Pros and cons of the B altic state

Among our compatriots there are many people who dream of getting a Latvian passport. Nevertheless, when planning your move to this country, you need to familiarize yourself in advance with all the positive and negative sides of such a decision. Russians already living in Latvia are among the positivesdistinguish the following:

  • The possibility of free movement in the states of Europe.
  • Latvian laws make it easy to open and run your own business.
  • Relatively low crime rate.
  • The ban on the Russian language in Latvia does not apply to domestic relations;
  • Measured, calm lifestyle.
  • The abundance of resort areas and the proximity of the sea.
  • A large number of historical monuments.

But besides this, Russians living in Latvia point to the existence of some negative factors. Among them are:

  • lower wages and living standards than other EU countries;
  • limiting the number of highly paid jobs for Russians;
  • high threshold for entering the retirement age and difficulties in recalculating the length of service obtained in Russia if necessary.

Besides this, a good knowledge of the Latvian language is required. And it is quite difficult for Russian people to study. Our compatriots also face difficulties in developing the habit of emotional restraint.

National composition

Since 1990, Latvia's population has maintained a downward trend. Today, 1.91 million people live in the country.

What is the ethnic composition of the population of Latvia? The largest ethnic group is made up of indigenous people. These are Livs, or Latvians. There are 60 of them in the country, 31% of the total population. There are almost two times fewer Russians in Latvia. They make up 25.69% of the total population. Belarusians in the country3.18%. Another national minority in Latvia is represented by Ukrainians. That's only 2.42%.

Natives of Russia, according to 1989 data, accounted for almost 34% of the country's population. However, after Latvia gained independence, the number of our former compatriots began to decline. Some of them returned to the Russian Federation, while others went to Western Europe.

Nevertheless, immigration to Latvia does not stop today. Most of all, residents come to this country from neighboring countries - Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. But there is also a trend towards an increase in the flow of people who arrived in Latvia from Asia and South America.


Latvia is a country that enforces its legal regulations very strictly. This also applies to the national language. Latvia provides for the need to own it. But due to the fact that a fairly large part of its population is represented by immigrants from Russia, many people speak Russian here. Almost 34% of the population uses it in everyday life. And in this number there are representatives of the original ethnic strata.

flags of latvia and russia

It should be borne in mind that in order to obtain citizenship in the country, exams are held that test knowledge of the Latvian language. Minimum knowledge of it (at level 1A) is necessary for applicants for the simplest job, for example, a janitor or a loader. With category 2A, you can get a job as a waiter. Starting from level 3A, it is allowed to apply for the most basic office position.


In recent years, a large number of its inhabitants have left Latvia.People were attracted to Western Europe with large salaries. Especially many highly qualified specialists left the country. So, due to the lack of doctors and the reduction of funding in the B altic state, even hospitals are sometimes closed.

A lot of work in Latvia for Russians in construction, manufacturing, IT-technologies and trade. Labor emigration has led to the fact that many regions are experiencing a shortage of workers. Almost a third of the inhabitants of Latvia receive a salary that does not even reach 300 euros.

The most attractive city for immigrants is Riga. Almost 2/3 of the inhabitants of Latvia live in it, as well as in its environs. There are jobs in Riga in various industries, including pharmaceutical, chemical, textile, woodworking and food industries. However, the main sector of the capital's economy is the provision of a wide variety of services.

Education system for Russians

Where can the children of our former compatriots study in Latvia today? The country's education system includes:

  1. Kindergartens. The country has preschool institutions in Russian. There are also mixed kindergartens. They have both Latvian and Russian groups. In the latter, the kids are taught the national language of the country. This is done in a playful way at least 2 times a week. Starting from the age of 5, learning the language of Latvia becomes daily.
  2. Elementary school. This stage of education includes the education of children from grades 1 to 4. Latvian lessons are held in a Russian schoollanguage. All other subjects are taught in two languages. What will be the share of the national language depends on the position taken by the school. That is why training programs in the country in various educational institutions sometimes differ significantly from each other.
  3. High school. This is the next level of education, which covers grades 4-9. In the Russian school, children also learn subjects in two languages. There are no strict rules on the proportionality of their application. However, by the 7th grade, the share of the Latvian language increases significantly.
  4. High school. From grade 9 to grade 12, 60% of lessons are taught in Latvian, and 40% in Russian.
  5. Secondary vocational education. When entering a state institution, you will have to study the necessary disciplines only in the Latvian language. But there are also municipal technical schools and colleges in the country. Within their walls, Russian or both languages ​​are used in the learning process. The same goes for commercial secondary vocational and technical institutions.
  6. Higher education. Private commercial universities in Latvia form the flow of students with their education in Russian. When entering state higher education institutions, knowledge of Latvian is required, in which students are introduced to subjects.

It is worth noting that the education system in the country is undergoing constant changes. The main innovations concern the share of the Latvian language, which is steadily increasing at all stages of education.

children with Russian flags

In 2017, the authorities decided thatthat, starting from spring 2018, centralized examinations in 12 grades will be conducted only in Latvian. From 2021, schools will completely exclude the teaching of subjects in Russian.

Attitude of locals

There is an opinion that the population of the B altic countries is unfriendly towards Russians. Nevertheless, our compatriots living in Latvia or visiting this state as tourists note that this is not so. In fact, the attitude of Latvians towards Russians can be called neutral. The conflicts that sometimes arise relate to the habitual behavior of our people, which is considered rude and defiant by the locals. But someone who behaves politely and respects local traditions will never have any problems.

Latvian flags in front of the building

The attitude towards Russian tourists in Latvia is rather friendly. Locals perceive them the same way as all other foreigners who come to the country to spend their money there. With correct behavior, Russian tourists can always count on respectful and attentive service.

When preparing for a trip to this country, it is worth considering that the period during which Latvia was part of the USSR is perceived by Latvians as an occupation. In this regard, any, even the slightest mention of Soviet holidays, traditions and ideology, as well as a manifestation of arrogance on the part of a resident of Russia, will be perceived extremely negatively. This is not surprising, since a tourist in any country mustrespect the locals.

Adaptation Features

Obtaining the right to reside in Latvia must have grounds that are provided for by the laws of the country. Among them:

  • holding a work permit;
  • presence of relatives who are citizens of the B altic state;
  • organizing your own business;
  • property ownership.

Based on the existing circumstances, a foreigner will receive the right to obtain a residence permit or permanent residence. For faster adaptation, most Russian migrants choose the capital of the country for their residence. In this city, our former compatriots account for 40.2% of the total population. Books and magazines in Russian are sold in Riga. You can listen to the radio on it. There are also films in Latvia that come with Russian sub titles. Many of our former compatriots run successful businesses in this country or were able to take prestigious positions,

chalk writing on blackboard

Latvian policy towards the Russian-speaking population who came here for employment is quite loyal. With legal employment, our compatriots enjoy the same rights and social benefits as representatives of the indigenous population. However, the level of salaries for the proposed professions is not so high. However, experienced professionals with higher education have a chance to find a good job. However, they will be able to fill an existing vacancy only if there are no applicants for it either from Latvia itself or from countries that are members of the European Union.

When planning to live and work in this country, it is worth considering the fact that, according to its legislation, the use of the state language in all public spheres is mandatory. Violation of this rule threatens with fines, which start from 700 euros. Civil servants for this offense can be immediately fired from their jobs.

How do Russians live in Latvia? This largely depends on the level of integration of each person into a new society for him. It is not necessary to count on obtaining preferences for the Russian-speaking population. In 2012, the Russian diaspora insisted on holding a referendum considering the introduction of a second state language in the country. Together with Latvian, they were to become Russian. However, the majority of voters, which is 74.8%, voted against the proposed proposal. This leads to the gradual disappearance of the Russian-speaking environment. So, if at the dawn of the 21st century it included more than 90% of the country's inhabitants of all ages, then in 2019 young Latvians prefer English. In addition, today, in addition to large resorts and cities, 75% of the country's inhabitants speak only Latvian.

Russian Diaspora

Our compatriots make up the largest of all national minorities in Latvia. 62.5% of ethnic Russians living in the country have its citizenship. 29.2% do not have it. A similar situation arose after the B altic state gained independence. The country's government allowed citizenship only to those Russians who lived on its territory before 1940, and their descendants. Yetthe rest could not use this right. This part of Russian residents received a certificate of a non-citizen. Such a document granted the right to permanent residence in Latvia, but at the same time significantly limited people in their political and some economic rights. The situation changed somewhat after the entry of the B altic countries into the EU. According to the requirements of the Council of the European Union, non-citizens were given equal economic rights with Latvians. But these changes did not affect the political possibilities. Non-citizens never received the right to take part in state and municipal elections.

Latvian passports

There are other restrictions for Russians. Thus, according to Latvian laws, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of National Minorities does not apply to non-citizens who come from Russia.

Of course, every person has the right to become a full citizen of the country. To do this, you must obtain citizenship through the naturalization procedure. It includes passing an exam on the knowledge of the Latvian language, the history of the country and its Constitution. You will also need to take an oath of allegiance to this state.

Today, Russians with Latvian citizenship live in the country 19.6% of the total population. Since 1996, the Russian Society has been operating in the country. Its main goal is to preserve and further develop Russian culture in Latvia based on Christian values.

Our former compatriots have their own political party. She bears the name"Russian Union of Latvia". There is also a public organization in the country. This is the Headquarters for the Protection of Russian Schools.

Where is the best place to go?

Migrants from Russia prefer to settle where there is work for them and there is a Russian-speaking environment. First of all, these are such big cities as Riga and Daugavpils.

city ​​of Riga

Representatives of creative professions are more comfortable in Liepaja and Jurmala. There is a cultural environment suitable for them here. Those who wish to work in the tourism business can go to such resort towns as Talsi, Cesis, Saulkrasti, Sabile, Ventspils, Rezekne and Sigulda. Some Russians organize their own travel companies, conducting excursions around the country, or are private guides. Maritime specialists go to Ventspils. This city, with its large port, attracts migrants with its developing infrastructure and comfortable beaches.

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