Only 400 Russian citizens have registered for Latvian language test

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This year, thousands of citizens of the Russian Federation residing in Latvia will have to pass a language test to extend their residency permits in Latvia. The Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office (PMLP) has intended to send out reminders to all these people, which has caused some controversy in society, Latvian Television reported on February 2.

Russian citizens have been able to apply for the national language proficiency test since February 1 and so far just over 400 people out of 18,000 have registered. Registration in person is mainly used by elderly people, and many acknowledged they have lived in Latvia for most of their lives.

“At my age, I'm 70, it's tough. Your mind gets tired quickly. Difficult. I'll be honest, it's difficult. Our children are citizens, but we... Well, so it happened,” Aleksejs said.

“I learn for five hours every day. For two months I've been practicing. It's hard. At my age there are problems with memory. Everything is quickly forgotten. It's not easy. It's easier for young people,” Vladimirs said.

Others acknowledged that the exam did not frighten them, they said they knew the basic level of Latvian language, although they do not use it every day.

“I'm not afraid. I learn online, on the Internet, and from textbooks, and in general, I know and remember a lot,” Vera said.

“I speak it, I understand everything. I already passed a test in the 90s. No problem,” Linda said.

The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs plans to send informative letters to all Russian citizens subject to the requirement in April. The intention would cost the State €48,000. The administration explains that the information should be sent so that people don't say that they did not know anything.

“It's a procurement, and it means all standard letters, which, from our employees' point of view, is the best solution. Because we are preparing one letter and this letter is sent to a certain group of persons. In this case we are saving our resources,” said Maira Roze, chief executive of PMLP.

Given the impressive number of people, it will be a huge volume of letters anyway. It has raised criticism at a time of public outrage over the long lines for the settlement of personal records. Roze said that the PMLP cannot do without the notifications.

“If the State has decided that it must be done in such short periods, it is most appropriate, of course, to be aware that, after a person has been left without a residence permit, they cannot say that they did not know anything,” Roze said.

An application for the Latvian language test can be made until March 24, and the exams are scheduled to begin on April 11. However, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs plans to send letters only in April because it is still waiting for politicians to adopt this year's budget.

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