Latvia's New Residency Law 'Plays Into Kremlin Hands' - Journalist
26 April, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✓ Latvian parliament passed amendments to a residency law restricting rights of immigrants;

✓ "People who are going to be hit by these new amendments are middle-class people most of whom went to Latvia because of the dictatorial regime in Russia";

✓ "The amendments were initiated by far right nationalists who appeared to be anti-Russian and anti-Putin, but since they also promote anti-immigrant and anti-EU agenda, on many issues they ally with pro-Russian parties";

✓ The law affects 12,000 immigrants; the majority is citizens of the Russian Federation (aprox. 9,000).

The Latvian parliament passed new restrictions on permanent residency in the country. Now, if foreigners would like to renew their standard 5-year residency permit, they must pay 5, 000 Euro.

Leonid Ragozin, a freelance Russian journalist with a temporary residency in Latvia, is critical of the law. It disproportionally targets middle-class foreigners who will likely struggle to meet the requirements, Ragozin tells Hromadske. According to the journalist's estimates, the law to affect 12, 000 immigrants, the majority of them are citizens of the Russian Federation (aprox. 9,000) who fled authoritarian regime of President Putin in recent years. "They had sold their property in Moscow for property in Riga. What has happened now was not in the original rules of the game," Ragozin says.

The law, pushed by far-right nationalist politicians, plays into hands of the Kremlin misrepresenting Latvia as a xenophobic country, Ragozin warns. "I do not think it is a direct manipulation by the Kremlin. I think it complies with the general trend of expanding anti-EU and anti-immigrant sentiments," journalist adds.

Leanid Ragozin, freelance Russian journalist joined Josh Kovensky of Kyiv Post via Skype from Moscow on April 23rd, 2016.