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Latvians on Making Russian Official: 'Nyet'

Voters overwhelmingly defeat measure to add second language
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2012 11:04 AM CST
Latvians on Making Russian Official: 'Nyet'
A woman holds a child as she casts her ballot at a polling station as EU member Latvia holds a controversial referendum on whether to make Russian its second official language, an issue that highlights ethnic fault-lines in the ex-Soviet republic, in Riga on February 18, 2012. The campaign has exposed...   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Latvians overwhelmingly rejected a proposal yesterday to make Russian a second official language there, along with Latvian, reports al-Jazeera. With voter turnout topping 69%, one of the highest ever seen for a referendum there, nearly 78% said "nope" to adding Russian. With one-third of Latvia's 2.1 million citizens having Russian as their mother tongue, many feel that makes them second-class citizens. But many ethnic Latvians fear Russia is threatening Latvian independence. "Latvia is the only place throughout the world where Latvian is spoken, so we have to protect it," said one voter. "But Russian is everywhere." (Read more Latvia stories.)

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