Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

Latvia: Information on the treatment of ethnic Ukrainians

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 June 1997
Citation / Document Symbol LVA26939.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Latvia: Information on the treatment of ethnic Ukrainians, 1 June 1997, LVA26939.E, available at: [accessed 30 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


In telephone interviews on 12 and 16 June 1997, the director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies in Riga provided the following information, which represents the organization's viewpoint. There are 65,047 Ukrainians in Latvia who are without Latvian citizenship, and 4,365 Ukrainians who are Latvian citizens. The minority  groups in Latvia complain that the Latvian citizenship law is unjust. Some Ukrainians who are retired Soviet military personnel have acquired Russian citizenship.

The president added that the first language of most Ukrainians is Russian, and the overall situation and treatment of ethnic Ukrainians in Latvia is similar to that of Russians and other minority groups. Ukrainians who have acquired Latvian citizenship do not have any major difficulty or encounter systematic discrimination in Latvia. The Ukrainians who are non-citizens are unable to vote and work in the civil service and in a small number of professions. They may not, for example, work as pilots or as judges. The director has not heard any reports in the last several years indicating ethnic Ukrainians have been subjected to violence or have been threatened with violence on account of their ethnicity. The Centre received a complaint one year ago from a Ukrainian, a former Soviet soldier demobilized in 1992, fearful of being unable to return to Latvia if he were to leave.

Corroborating information on the treatment of Ukrainians in Latvia, apart from their ability to attain Latvian citizenship, could not be found among the additional sources consulted by the DIRB. For information on the rights of  noncitizens and Russian speakers and on the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies and for additional information on the situation of Ukrainians, particularly their ability (and that of other minority groups) to obtain Latvian citizenship,  please consult the first page of the 4 March 1996 Guardian attachment, the fifth to last paragraph of the first page of the 21 January 1997 Reuters attachment and the other attachments. For additional information on the obtention of Latvian citizenship, please consult Response to Information Request LVA26938.E of 16 June 1997. For additional information on the rights of noncitizens, please consult pages 1013 and 1014 of Country Reports 1996, which is available at Regional Documentation Centres.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies, Riga. 16 June 1997. Telephone interview with the director.

_____. 12 June 1997. Telephone interview with director.


The Guardian [Manchester]. 4 March 1996. David Hearst. "Riga Diary." (NEXIS)

Interfax News Agency [Moscow, in English]. 14 August 1996. "Official Calls for Equal Rights for Latvian Residents Without Citizenship." (BBC Summary Aug. 16 1996/NEXIS)

Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies, Riga. 23 May 1996. Facsimile sent to the DIRB.

Reuters. 21 January 1997. BC Cycle. "Estonia Urges Russia Not to Oppose NATO Expansion." (NEXIS)

Unian News Agency [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 22 May 1996. "Relations with Ukraine; Ukraine Parliament Speaker Visits Latvia." (BBC Summary 24 May 1996/NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Baltic Times [Riga]. Weekly.

CSCE Digest [Washington]. Monthly.

DIRB country file on Latvia.

DIRB databases.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Reports.

News from Helsinki Watch [New York]. Monthly.

Transition [Prague]. Twice monthly.

Uncaptive Minds [Washington]. Quarterly.

On-line search of media sources.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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