Protest over threat to close Russian schools in Latvia

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Mar 1 16:34:00 UTC 2004

>>From Eurolang,

Latvia: Russian-speaking schoolchildren use Pink Floyd song in protests
Aleksandr Shegedin in Riga 2/24/2004

In Riga schoolchildren have been protesting against government plans to
switch Russian-medium schools to the Latvian language from September 1st
2004. The increasingly well supported demonstrations, held throughout
February, have been organized by the Headquarters for the Support of
Russian-Language Schools.

According to different sources 8, 000 to 23, 000 schoolchildren
demonstrated near the residence of Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga
after she had signed the law on the language change.

The Headquarters also produced special video, which is a remake of the
rock band Pink Floyds song Another Brick in the Wall, but with Russian
lyrics. Schoolchildren sing the song during the demonstrations with the

Don`t you be such fools, keep your hands out of Russian schools, dirty
hands out of Russian schools.

Russian language activists were called by Security Police to give an
explanation as to the possible provocation of violence by the video.
Gennady Kotov, member of the Latvian Human Rights Committee said that the
breaking down of the wall in the clip symbolized the breaking down of the
wall between the Latvian and Russian communities in Latvia.

Representing the interests of Roger Waters, author of the Pink Floyd song,
Warner-Chappell Music Scandinavia has applied to Latvian copyright agency
AKKA/LAA to ban distribution of the video and song, but have not pointed
to any precise copyright violations. In response the Latvian Human Rights
Committee said that it is going to contact Waters personally and get a
permit for distribution.

Meanwhile, the Latvian media has run reports about clashes between
schoolchildren on the basis of ethnic origin. However, the popular
Russian-language newspaper the Telegraf in Riga opines that this is
political provocation against Russian schools and that there are no
indications of ethnic conflict. (Eurolang)

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