Essential reading: Latvia
Arvamus 10 Jan 2011  EWR
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K.S., Eastern Approaches, Economist.com
Time was when one book on the Baltic States was enough and two was plenty. Now you need a whole shelf, or two, for each country. The Latvian library has just gained three new additions which may be useful for those intrigued by the country's rollercoaster economics and precarious security.

“Shrinking Citizenship: discursive practices that limit democratic participation in Latvian politics” concerns the most controversial topic in Latvian politics: citizenship, and the lack of it. When Latvia regained independence in 1991, it decided that those people who had moved ("illegally immigrated") into the country during the era of Soviet occupation should not automatically gain citizenship. After some false starts, and a lot of outside pressure, Latvia agreed that they should be allowed to gain citizenship if they took a series of tests on language and history. The divide is not exactly an ethnic one: many Russians are citizens, and some non-citizens are not Russians. Naturalisation and demographic change is gradually diminishing the size of the non-citizen population. But the split in Latvian society remains painful and open to exploitation by outsiders.

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