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Mar 7th 2009 1:41PM Well, I guess you just have to understand why Latvians aren't too happy when you speak Russian to them. It's not about oppressing the minority. The Russians came into Latvia as conquerors, with the intent of "Russification" = eradicating anything and everything Latvian to be replaced with Russian. Latvians had to struggle to maintain their language and identity during the Soviet years.
So now, when someone tells them that Russian is basically the same thing as Latvian, it's kind of insulting. It's not even the same alphabet! We're proud of our heritage and are lucky it wasn't lost completely during those difficult years.
Is it really so hard to expect people to speak Latvian in Latvia? Every other country in the world has its own national language. That's a basic criteria for citizenship anywhere else.
After a long history of oppression from Russia, there are just going to be some hard feelings, like it or not. And the Russians grumbling about "oppression" right now? I'm sorry, but unless Latvia starts deporting them to the Siberia, it's just not on the same scale.