The Russian Federation has long relied on destabilizing societies in countries within the former Soviet bloc. This way, Moscow has been trying to regain control of the lost “colonies”, bringing to power affiliated political forces, creating unrecognized enclaves in the shape of various “republics”, or sowing chaos across regions.
The weakening of Russia’s position following the collapse of the Soviet Union affected its capabilities, but high oil and gas prices and excess revenues from energy exports allowed the Kremlin regime to significantly strengthen its efforts in this direction. But, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in hybrid war mode and economic restrictions that ensued crippled funding for those projects. At the same time, the direction remained relevant and, even more so, became prevalent.
Just yesterday, in my piece titled “Kremlin propaganda vector: Protecting the rights of Russian speakers and preserving the historical truth” I described how the Kremlin announced key directions of its propaganda and destabilization projects. Now evidence says the project kicked off targeting Latvia.
Russia started implementing its long-contemplated project of naturalization of foreign nationals, allowing them to retain their original citizenship – and it started it from Latvia.
It would seem that Russian speakers of Latvia will immediately rush to get their passports with a two-headed eagle on the title page. The problem is, though, that the Latvian Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office doesn’t welcome this initiative, noting that dual citizenship with Russia is prohibited, according to Part 2 Art 23 of Citizenship Law, which obliges a Latvian national who has obtained Russian citizenship to apply within 30 days for renunciation of Latvian citizenship.
This, in turn, puts on the scales the option of enjoying benefits of the European Union and the one of “embracing the immense nirvana” in the distant resorts of Russia’s Yakutia.
On the other hand, it should be understood that either due to the not very high IQ, or massive exposure to Russian propaganda, a certain part of the Latvian population will still make a choice in favor of Russian citizenship, and this, in turn, will provide the Kremlin with greater maneuver for further implementing its project.
I should note here that a trial version of this strategy has earlier been worked out in the occupied territories of Donbas. But, nevertheless, it’s one thing when it comes to some unrecognized pseudo-republics, and it’s quite another thing when it’s about an EU member state. In fact, Latvia is a testing ground for Russia to perhaps consider trying its luck in the regions beyond the ex-Soviet republics. After all, the Russian-speaking diaspora has settled vastly throughout the EU and, despite the benefits of the capitalist world, it keeps reminiscing on Soviet times nostalgically.
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