Published at Vice News
Words by Jonathan Brown
12 percent of the population of Latvia are classified as “non-citizens” by the government. They are ethnic-Russian citizens of the USSR who were not granted Latvian citizenship when the country gained independence in 1991 - a unique phenomenon in Europe.
On the 25 year anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many still feel like ‘second class citizens’, with an official title ‘alien’ in their non-citizen passports.
Kremlin has been keen to politicize the issue, with many fearing a similar separatism scenario playing out in Latvia, as it did in Ukraine. Many ‘non-citizens’ do not recognise the Soviet occupation of Latvia - a prerequisite for taking the Latvian naturalisation exam.