Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Latvian Latvia. Par Latvisku Latviju. For whom?
By Antons Benjamins 

While in Valmiera this morning, I picked up a copy of “Latvijas Avīze”. My eyes stopped at the 3rd page, re “Komments and Viewpoints”. The Viewpoint was expressed by Voldemars Krustiņš, who is listed as the Chairman of the Editorial Board, the Editor in Chief being one Linda Rasa.

What caught my eye about editor Krustins Viewpoint was that it came under the heading “The Referendum—About a Latvian Latvia.” The title, moreover, was written under a lead, that went: “There is not and cannot be/ any question over the Latvian language, but only about a Latvian Latvia./ If the question is not over the latters, then what is it about?”

I am inclined to second the last by Krustins. However, with reservations. I have never met editor Krustins and know little about him. The overall sense of him that I have received over a period of many years (I am an occasional reader of “Latvijas Avīze”. My subjective sense of Krustins viewpoint  is that he is right of center, the ‘right’ defined mostly by anti-Russian orientation, which is premised on his certainty that “the Russian problem is the result of the influx of Russian speaking people, which is the result of the Soviet occupation of Latvia”.

However, if this is so, how is it that in the years immediately following 1991, Latvians did so little reflecting on who they were, what it is that they wished for themselves in the future? Since my first visit (since 1944) happened in that year and was followed by several more, before I came to stay in 1995, What was most impressive about those first years was the reckless abandonment of the Latvian countryside to Latvian apparatchiks who did not count as Soviet occupiers. Most of the collective farms (sovhoz), were abandoned, if not outright destroyed, by people carrying away everything that was moveable. Forests, too, were being cut down with little sense of responsibility, because the doers of the damage were local municipal administrators, who had no flear of any law, because they were protected by administrators at the next level up, say at the regional level.. Most often, the money earned by this demolition derby did not go into the account of the pagasts, the municipality, but simply disappeared. People who protested, were quite simply intimidated  with methods of threats inherited from the Soviet times. The intimidators were not the Soviets, but Latvians.

One Latvian who protested the corruption—actually vandalism by Latvian officialdom—Adolfs Buķis, killed himself (1993) at the foot of the Riga Freedom Monument. His relatives were threatened Soviet style, not to speak, because their children would be kept from attending school. Another inheritance from the Soviet occupants. I was interested in this sacrificial event (as I am interested in self-sacrifice as part of statecraft), and interviewed several family members of Buķis, who confirmed the above.

According to newspaper accounts at the time, the politce promised the public to investigate whether Buķis allegation that his act was to protest government corruption was true. The investigation never took place, perhaps due to the presumption of some Latvians that to take such an extreme action against one’s own now said to be FREE nation, is as incredible as it is unacceptable.

This writer’s own disgust with the Latvian government in office, after all is said, eventually goes back to this uninvestigated event and the presumptions behind it. It is the presumption that everything that came under the name of Latvia was about a “Latvian Latvia” that has by this day evolved to  become virtual dictatorship by a corrupt government. Is it beyond argument that a parliamentary democracy is beyond criticism of having turned itself into a form of fascism (social security for the in-group)?  How does one explain the so-called Zatler’s “Reform” Party going quietly into that good night without any protest when the leader of presumed “reforms” accepts a car costing over 65,000 lats, when a decent enough car can be had for one tenth the cost? At least the newspaper’s cartoonist shows Zatler’s kicking the tires of the Audi and asking, if the car will stand up to a tank?

If former President Zatlers stands for a Latvian Latvia, I have to LOL. I hope that editor Krustins forgives me for standing way left of center to his statement that “There is not and cannot be/ any question over the Latvian language, but only about a Latvian Latvia./ If the question is not over the latters, then what is it about?”

I am inclined to think that what it is about is over the use and meaning of words in the Latvian language. What does it mean when Latvian words say one thing, but the Latvian leadership presumes that it is alright to go in the opposite direction? I welcome the fact that the Referendum appears to be inciding discussions over whether to vote For or AGAINST it.

No comments:

Post a Comment