Dispute between Daugavpils mayor and language watchdog to drag into 2019

Take note – story published 5 years ago

An October 24 court meeting concerning Daugavpils mayor Rihards Eigims' (Our Party) complaint against the State Language Center (VVC) has been postponed to early 2019.

VVC, Latvia's language authority, earlier found that Eigims' knowledge of Latvian is insufficient for him to take the post of mayor.

Eigims meanwhile went to court to lift the decision. But the meeting has been postponed as he did not appear in court.

"Eigims is contesting the decision by VVC head [Māris] Baltiņš saying that Eigims does not have full command of the state language," said Eigims' lawyer Dzintra Nikolajenko.

She said that the meeting has been postponed to January 23, 2019 as Eigims is on a business trip to Georgia. 

Earlier on, VVC had given Eigims six months to improve his language knowledge. The VVC can remove him from the city council, but only after the current proceedings find whether Eigims knows enough Latvian for public office. 

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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