Kučinskis: Latvia should not 'push' Russian citizens across the border

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What happens to Russian and Belarusian passport holders who will not be able to extend their residency rights in Latvia? Currently, the law does not specify anything, Interior Minister Māris Kučinskis (United List) told Latvian Television on February 13.

The current regulation requires former Latvian citizens and non-citizens who now hold a Russian or Belarusian passport to complete a Latvian language test by September 1, otherwise, they will be stripped of their permanent residence permit.

Kučinskis told LTV that if they don't pass the test, these people may apply to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) and apply for a residence permit on any other grounds provided for by the law, for example, if they have relatives in Latvia who have a legitimate basis to reside in Latvia, “or other opportunities to obtain a residence permit”.

On the other hand, if a person has no grounds to extend the residence permit, they will be notified that they are not issued any documents to stay in Latvia.

When asked if such people would then “be taken to the border”, Kučinskis expressed hope that if we are living in a democratic world we would not start to “push them across the border”.

At the same time, he acknowledged that the law does not currently specify what happens in such a case, as “the legislator has not thought about it”.

He also plans to discuss this issue in the coalition and will also encourage changes to the deadlines currently set for language tests so as not to create chaos. He proposed previously that people could pass the language test when their permit approaches expiration, otherwise the authorities might not cope with the influx of thousands of test-takers.

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