EBU warns against shutdown of Russian-language public media in Latvia

The influential European Broadcasting Union (EBU) warned October 5 that a Saeima-approved plan to completely end funding for public media in the Russian language could constitute a human rights violation by Latvia.

As previously reported by LSM, the Saeima recently supported a new national security concept, part of which involves leaving Russian-language media coverage entirely to the private sector from 2026. This would effecively mean a shutdown of our sister service, Rus.LSM.lv, which is part of the same public media umbrella organization as the English-language service you are reading now.

However, the EBU (which is in turn the umbrella oragnization for all public service broadcasters in Europe) raises numerous objections to the plan in an open letter from EBU Director General Noel Curran addressed to Prime Minister Evika Siliņa and copied to several other bodies including Latvia's civil rights ombudsman and media regulators. 

"If adopted, this proposal would run against fundamental human rights. It is integral to human rights that Public Service Media (PSM), where it exists, use minority languages," says the letter. 

"Latvia is a member of the UN, EU and Council of Europe and is legally bound to act within the scope of the international, EU and European human rights law. Governments should serve the interests and needs of the whole population, including minorities, “to access the media and impart and receive information, including in their own language” in accordance with the “principles of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness"," says the letter, citing a report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues.


EBU ģenerāldirektora vēstule Latvijas premjerei


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"Alienating Russian speaking people from PSM programmes and services would jeopardize their integration in society and could hamper social cohesion," the letter says. It also says that Russian-language broadcasts are of help to Ukrainian refugees in Latvia.

"Critically, Ukrainian people seeking refuge in Latvia understand Russian and content delivered in the language helps them settle in the country," it is stated. 

"PSM in minority languages is more likely to contribute positively to stability and national security. Failure to engage with minorities in their own language increases their sense of alienation, marginalization, and exclusion. It also contributes to the creation of fragmentation and polarization. National security risks due to ethnic tensions and conflicts within a State are more likely to arise," the letter says.

The full text of the letter is reproduced above in the PDF attachment to this story.

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