Daugavpils mayor might be ousted for not knowing enough Latvian

The State Language Center (VVC), a body tasked with monitoring language use in Latvia, has fined Rihards Eigims (Our Party), the mayor of Daugavpils, for not knowing enough Latvian. Under Latvian law, the center must now file a court application that could oust Eigims from his deputee seat. 

VVC say they have repeatedly found that Eigims does not have sufficient command of the Latvian language.

While VVC does not reveal the fine they've slapped on Eigims, according to the law they must now file for removing him from the city council.

"The mayor has improved his use of the Latvian language, if we compare it to six months ago. But it's not sufficient, because [a councilor] must know the official state language on the highest level and speak it completely freely. Our decision has been to impose a fine over not using the state language according to the law," said VVC representative Sarmīte Pāvulēna.

"The next steps are stipulated in other laws, and we have to act accordingly, i.e. we have to go to court over annulling the councilor's official powers," she said.

Earlier on, VVC had given Eigims six months to improve his language knowledge. Ironically, it was the man Eigims ousted from the position of Daugavpils mayor, Andrejs Elksniņš, who was among the first to point out his replacement's lack of linguistic credentials.

Notwithstanding that fact, Eigims has in the past served as a member of the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, for the Greens and Farmers' Union. Saeima conducts all its business in Latvian and much of it is quite advanced and technical into the bargain - which raises the obvious question of whether he actually understood what was going on and what he was voting for and against during his parliamentary career.

Located close to Latvia's eastern border with Belarus, Russian is widely spoken in Daugavpils, but as with all municipalities, Latvian remains the only state language for official business.

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