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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Latvia Citizen Bill Comes Closer to Law

RIGA, Latvia -- Latvia's parliament passed a second reading of a controversial post-Soviet draft law on citizenship Thursday that would limit the rights of Soviet-era immigrants to citizenship in the Baltic state. Western diplomatic sources said that if the bill passed a third reading on June 22 and became law it would be likely to provoke sharp criticism not only from Russia but also from international organizations. Of 100 deputies, 50 voted for the draft law, 14 voted against and 13 abstained. The rest refused to vote. The latest draft of the law, which has been in the works since Latvia became independent from Soviet Moscow in 1991, ignores recommendations by the Council of Europe and Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe to drop its plans to impose quotas on would-be citizens. Slightly more than half the people of post-Soviet Latvia are ethnically Latvian. Half a century of Moscow rule since the country was annexed in 1940 saw a huge flood of mainly Russian immigrants to work in new Soviet industrial complexes. The draft law introduces a quota system for letting in new citizens. Under it, only people born in Latvia or former citizens of the pre-Soviet Latvian republic automatically get citizenship now. The rest have to wait until the year 2000.