The Latvian Russian Union (LRU, Latvian: Latvijas Krievu savienība, Russian: Русский союз Латвии, romanizedRusskiy soyuz Latvii) (LKS) is a political party in Latvia supported mainly by ethnic Russians and other Russian-speaking minorities. The co-chairpersons of the Latvian Russian Union are Miroslav Mitrofanov and Tatjana Ždanoka.[1]

Latvian Russian Union
Latvijas Krievu savienība
Русский союз Латвии
AbbreviationLKS (Latvian)
РСЛ (Russian)
Co-chairpersonsTatjana Ždanoka
Miroslavs Mitrofanovs[1]
Founded3 August 1998; 25 years ago (1998-08-03) (ForHRUL alliance)
19 May 2007; 16 years ago (2007-05-19) (party)
18 January 2014; 9 years ago (2014-01-18) (LKS/РСЛ)
Merger ofEqual Rights
Free Choice in People's Europe [lv; ru]
HeadquartersRiga, Rūpniecības iela 9, LV 1010
IdeologyRussian minority politics[2]
Colours  Blue
0 / 100
European Parliament
1 / 8
Riga City Council
3 / 60

The party emphasizes issues important to the Russian minority in Latvia. It requests the granting of Latvian citizenship to all of Latvia's remaining non-citizens and supports Russian and Latgalian as co-official languages in municipalities where at least 20% of the population are native speakers of such a language. It supports stronger ties with both Russia and the European Union, and was the only major political organization to oppose Latvia's membership in NATO.

History Edit

As ForHRUL (1998–2014) Edit

As an electoral alliance (1998–2007) Edit

The party originated as the electoral alliance For Human Rights in a United Latvia (ForHRUL) (Latvian: Par cilvēka tiesībām vienotā Latvijā, PCTVL; Russian: За права человека в единой Латвии, ЗаПЧЕЛ) that was established in May 1998 by three political parties: the National Harmony Party, Equal Rights and the Socialist Party of Latvia, all of which were mainly supported by Russophone voters. The alliance won 16 out of 100 seats in the 1998 parliamentary election and 25 seats in the 2002 parliamentary election, as well as 13 out of 60 seats on Riga City Council in the 2001 municipal elections [lv]. After the municipal elections, ForHRUL became part of Riga's city government and National Harmony Party member Sergey Dolgopolov became the deputy mayor of Riga City Council.

During this period, ForHRUL's most prominent leaders were Jānis Jurkāns, Alfrēds Rubiks and Tatjana Ždanoka. Jurkāns was a leader of the Popular Front of Latvia and founder of the National Harmony Party; Rubiks and Ždanoka were prominent as leaders of the Interfront movement, the Latvian branch of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the federalist movement in Latvia in the early 1990s. They were fairly popular in the Russian community but very unpopular among ethnic Latvians. ForHRUL therefore remained in opposition, because a coalition with Rubiks or Ždanoka was seen as a political suicide by most other elected parties.

ForHRUL partially broke up in 2003. The National Harmony Party was the first to leave the alliance and the Socialist Party followed half a year later. The remnant of ForHRUL consisted of Equal Rights and Free Choice in People's Europe [lv; ru]. The latter was composed of dissident Socialist Party and National Harmony Party members, like Yakov Pliner, who opposed the decision to quit the alliance. This reduced grouping had only 6 members of the Saeima (out of 25 that the alliance had before the breakup). ForHRUL was the main force supporting the 2003-2005 activities of the Headquarters for the Protection of Russian Schools.

At the first Latvian election to the European Parliament in 2004, ForHRUL gained one seat, held by Tatjana Ždanoka, who sat with the Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament. It also proposed the idea of a Europe-wide party of ethnic Russians. ForHRUL supported a federal Europe, with a "common economic and political space from Lisbon to Vladivostok".

As a single party (2007–2014) Edit

In 2007, ForHRUL was transformed into a single party that retained the name and identity of the old electoral alliance. In recent years the party's support has declined as ethnic Russian voters have switched allegiance to the Harmony party, successor to the National Harmony Party. At the 2010 parliamentary election, the party lost its representation in the Latvian Parliament.

In 2011, the party launched an unsuccessful popular initiative on amending the law governing Latvian nationality. The Central Electoral Commission considered the proposed amendment to be incompatible with the Constitution of Latvia and the process of collecting signatures for a referendum on the proposals was suspended. This decision was eventually upheld by the Constitutional Court of Latvia and the Supreme Court of Latvia. It also supported the 2012 initiative to make Russian a co-official language in Latvia.

As Latvian Russian Union (2014–present) Edit

In January 2014, ForHRUL changed its name to the Latvian Russian Union. At the 2014 European Parliament election, it retained its single seat in the European Parliament. The party supported the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and has taken a pro-Russian stance in the subsequent Russo-Ukrainian War. In August 2014 the party signed a cooperation agreement with the Crimean branch of Russian Unity to "strengthen the unity of Russian world".[4]

In July 2018, Ždanoka resigned her mandate in the European Parliament to focus on the 2018 Latvian parliamentary election and was succeeded by Miroslav Mitrofanov.[5][6] With Andrejs Mamikins as their prime minister candidate[7] Latvian Russian Union gained 3.2% votes, failing to win any seats in Saeima, but qualifying for state funding of almost 20 000 euros a year[8] that the party would not be able to receive since it does not possess an account in a credit institution registered in Latvia as required by the law.[9] In 2020, the party finally succeeded in obtaining an account in a Latvian bank.[10]

In the 2019 European Parliament election, LRU received 6.24% of the votes and gained one seat, held by Tatjana Ždanoka who personally received 18,098 plusses and was crossed out 739 times.[11] In the 2020 Riga City Council election, the party gained 6.5% of the votes and re-entered the Riga City Council with four seats.[12]

On April 8, 2022, the European Free Alliance suspended LRU's membership in the party due to "fundamental disagreements" regarding the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, including Ždanoka voting against the European Parliament Resolution condemning it.[13] The same month a 2013 post from the LRU council member Jevgēņijs Osipovs resurfaced and was shared by him and other members of LRU, in which he threatened with "war" if the Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders was moved "by even a millimetre".[14]

LRU received a warning from the State Security Service for activities "aimed at justifying violations of foreign policy and international law by Russia, as well as the dissemination of propaganda messages". The party's leadership responded by warning its members "to refrain from speaking, distributing or publishing news that reflects Russia's view of this aggressive war, and to avoid publishing news from unsafe sources at all."[15][16] The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau informed LRU that the State Security Service warning could be regarded as grounds for halting state funding to the party.[17][18]

Election results Edit

Legislative elections Edit

Election Party leader Performance Rank Government
Votes % ± pp Seats +/–
1998[a] Jānis Jurkāns 135,700 14.20 New
16 / 100
New 4th Opposition
2002 189,088 19.09   4.89
25 / 100
  9   2nd Opposition
2006 Yakov Pliner 54,684 6.06   13.03
6 / 100
  19   7th Opposition
2010 Juris Sokolovskis 13,847 1.47   4.59
0 / 100
  6   6th Extra-parliamentary
2011 Yakov Pliner 7,109 0.78   0.69
0 / 100
  0   7th Extra-parliamentary
2014 Miroslav Mitrofanov 14,390 1.59   0.81
0 / 100
  0   7th Extra-parliamentary
2018 Andrejs Mamikins 27,014 3.22   1.63
0 / 100
  0   9th Extra-parliamentary
2022 32,688 3.67   0.45
0 / 100
  0   11th Extra-parliamentary
  1. ^ officially participated as TSP

European Parliament Edit

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/–
2004 Tatjana Ždanoka 61,401 10.75 (#3)
1 / 9
2009 76,436 9.84 (#3)
1 / 8
2014 28,303 6.43 (#5)
1 / 8
2019 29,546 6.28 (#5)
1 / 8

Riga City Council Edit

Election Votes % Seats +/–
2005 27,728 13.68
9 / 60
2009 6,519 2.7
0 / 60
2020 11,170 6.5
4 / 60

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "Leaders of Latvian Russian Union". Latvian Russian Union. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  2. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2010). "Latvia". Parties and Elections in Europe. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26.
  3. ^ "Most stubborn survivor speaks out".
  4. ^ "Pro Russia party signs major deal with Crimea group". The Baltic Times. August 13, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "Ždanoka quits Brussels to run Saeima campaign for party". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. January 15, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  6. ^ "13th Saeima elections: The parties (Part 1)". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ždanoka may get shot at Saeima elections after all". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. June 30, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  8. ^ Klūga, Māris (October 8, 2018). "Three of the smaller parties to get state funding". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  9. ^ "No state cash for Latvian Russian Union". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. November 30, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  10. ^ "Latvia's Russian Union succeeds in opening bank account after lengthy negotiations". The Baltic Times. 31 July 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  11. ^ "European Parliament election results announced in Latvia". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 27 May 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Development/For!/Progressives lead the way in Rīga council elections". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 30 August 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  13. ^ "The Bureau suspends the Latvian Russian Union as a member party of EFA". European Free Alliance. April 8, 2022. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  14. ^ "Latvian Russians Union threatens with "war" if Victory Monument tampered with". Baltic News Network. 14 April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Latvian Russian Union gets warning by security service". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 22 April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Security Service warns Latvia's Russian Union against justification of Russia's aggression". The Baltic Times. 23 April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Continued spreading of Kremlin propaganda might be reason for halting funding for Latvia's Russian Union - Corruption Prevention Burau". The Baltic Times. 27 April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Pro-Kremlin posts may cost Latvian Russians Union its state funding". Baltic News Network. LETA. 27 April 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.

External links Edit