More than 2,000 Russian citizens have applied for Latvian language test

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So far, 2,021 Russian citizens have registered for the national language proficiency test, according to the State Educational Content Center (VISC), Latvian Television reported February 13.

About three-quarters of the total number have applied in Rīga. Until February 13, 1,527 Russian citizens had registered in Rīga, 372 in Daugavpils, and 122 in Liepāja. The total number of those who need to pass the test t maintain their permanent residency right is around 18,000.

The interest in beginning to learn Latvian has also increased in many areas outside Rīga, according to the study centers which organize paid and free courses. Most commonly, they are seniors, at pre-retirement or retirement age. Russian citizens are also turning to municipalities. For example, in Krāslava, Russian citizens turned to the municipality asking if it could arrange free courses but this request was refused.

Mārtiņš Segliņš, commercial director of the study center BUTS, said: “The attitudes from people are different. There are even those who are, let us say, in a fighting mood. As if we fall under attack, as if we had come up with these rules. But it's just our job, we're just training people.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the MC PLUS study center in Daugavpils, Oksana Soročina, said: “There is a lot of fuss about taking these exams. As far as I know, there is already a line, such information has spread to the public quite quickly, too. Of course, this emphasis and training opportunities will be very active in March.”

Minister for Interior Affairs Māris Kučinskis (United List) has expressed concerns about whether the law can be implemented in a timely manner and is proposing relaxing the deadlines by which time the language test must be passed. This would require further amendments to the law.

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