Russian added to public petition portal Manabalss.lv

Today Manabalss.lv added a Russian version to allow people with better mastery of that language to fully access and understand the public initiatives on the website. Previously it was only available in Latvian. Manabalss.lv is a public petition portal where citizens can vote for various initiatives using the e-signature system. Initiatives that receive more than 10,000 votes are submitted as a parliamentary initiative. 

The owners of the website state that the Russian version was created amid concerns that minority citizens are shying away from society and politics. Russians are the largest minority in Latvia, comprising 26.2 percent of the population (2012 data). The Russian version of the website will allow citizens of Latvia to access and understand the initiatives and ideas and to decide whether to support them or not.

All of the website's sections, initiatives, directions and explanations about voting will be available both in Latvian and in Russian.

However, submitting initiatives will still be restricted to Latvian in order to allow adding to and editing the text and to accede to the legal requirement for submitting parliamentary initiatives in the official language of the state.

There'll be a discussion held today at the EU House about the ways minorities can be engaged to participate in the political life of the society.

Leaders of many organizations have observed that there's a huge gap between Latvians and speakers of Russian in terms of partaking in politics. 

"There is no research about this, but at least we at Manabalss.lv have seen that mostly the Latvian-speaking population are active in Manabalss.lv, and, speaking of other organizations, there are observations that mainly Latvians are participating there as well," said Madara Peipiņa, the head of the public petition portal. 

"I would like to see more people cooperating. Not Latvians in Latvian-speaking organizations and Russians in Russian-speaking organizations, but so that cooperation, working together and building the country of Latvia happens together, not judging by the ethnicity or the language used daily," said Peipiņa. 

The Manabalss.lv initiatives submitted for review in Saeima range from stopping the sale of the formerly state-owned Citadele bank to banning the farming of furs to legalizing marijuana. 

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