Archive for April 2016
Latvia has adopted a law aimed specifically against a few thousand Russian political immigrants who have fled dictatorial mayhem in their country after Bolotnaya protests and the annexation of Crimea.
These people, mostly middle class professionals, obtained residence permits in exchange for investment in property and businesses. In practice, it means that they swapped their Russian apartments for flats and houses in Latvia, bringing hundreds of millions into the cash-strapped economy.
Now, the new law stipulates that they need to pay 5000 Euro per person to renew the five-year permit. For many families, possibly including my own, it means they’ll have to say goodbye to Latvia after all the efforts, years and money invested in settling down and integrating in Latvian society.
The simple reason is that unlike Russian oligarchs, state officials and criminals who inundate Latvia and will have no trouble paying the fee, for us 5000 euro, multiplied by the number of people in the family, is a very large sum of money.
Besides, the state-sponsored theft and extortion was one of main reasons to leave Russia in the first place, so why live in a country that does the same?
The new law says three things about Latvia:
1. This country is bad for investment, because it cheats and changes the rules in the middle of the game.
2. Amazingly, in the 21st century Latvian laws actually work retroactively. This one, for example, targets people who obtained permits after 2011.
3. The parliamentary majority in Latvia can be easily manipulated by the Kremlin into adopting laws that go against Latvia’s economic and strategic interests, while helping Vladimir Putin to promote anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic agenda in the EU and to target Russian political immigrants.
In short, it is full of Putin’s stooges no matter how they pretend to come across as patriots and nationalists. MPs who initiated this law have a long history of serving as Russian propaganda’s favourite scarecrows who are helping Kremlin TV to paint Latvia as intolerant and Russophobic country, which it clearly isn’t. Now they are at it again.