Enlarge image

Vladimir Putin:

Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / dpa

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the Baltic state of Latvia's treatment of part of the Russian population in threatening terms. "I don't think that luck will come to those who pursue such a policy," the Kremlin chief said in Moscow on Monday. Anyone who treats parts of his population – so literally – "piggy" need not be surprised if this turns against him. Putin said this at a meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council, according to the Tass agency.

The statements seem quite threatening, especially against the backdrop of the Ukraine war. In Ukraine, too, Putin had portrayed himself as a seemingly caring advocate for Russian-speaking people. This was followed by the annexation of Crimea, the occupation of territories in eastern Ukraine, and finally, in February 2022, the invasion of the whole of Ukraine.

The Kremlin-controlled Human Rights Council specifically dealt with changes to the law on foreigners in Latvia. Of the approximately 1.8 million people in the small EU and NATO country, about one in four is of Russian origin. However, many Russians are not Latvian citizens, but have the status of non-citizens. Under the impression of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Latvia has introduced language tests for these non-citizens for Latvian language skills suitable for everyday use. In the worst case, the residence permit may be revoked.

Putin speaks of a legal miscarriage

Putin expressed understanding that every country requires its inhabitants to have a basic knowledge of culture and language. But the status of non-citizens is a legal miscarriage, he said. Moscow will shape its relationship with states that discriminate against Russians accordingly. It could also help Russians living abroad to return to their historic homeland. "If they don't want to leave, but they are expelled, then we can't do anything about it, but we have to create appropriate conditions for these people," Putin was quoted as saying by Tass.

The Kremlin has also justified the war against Ukraine, among other things, with the alleged repression of the Russian-speaking population in the neighboring country.