The Nineteenth Annual
Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies
Northwest Conference


Panel 3B
Citizenship in the Baltics: Identity, Ethnicity, and Social Stratification

3:30-5:00 PM



The Effects of Citizenship Status on Russians' in Latvia
Justin Paulsen, Evans School/REECAS, UW

Defining the Nation: A case study of Latvian citizenship and ethnic stratificiation
Indra Ekmanis, REECAS, UW

Urban Multilingualism in Lithuania
Meiulte Ramoniene, Visiting Scholar, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania


The Effects of Citizenship Status on Russians' in Latvia
Justin Paulsen

Latvia’s unique history has bequeathed a complex set of laws governing citizenship. Latvia became a nation-state following WWI, but was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. During this period of Soviet rule, hundreds of thousands of Russians migrated into this Soviet satellite for political, military, and economic reasons. Latvia later regained independence in 1991 upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After independence, Latvia granted citizenship to all those who were citizens before annexation and their descendants, which affected relatively few Russians as many had migrated to Latvia during the Soviet era. They created a special ‘non-citizen’ category for the many ethnic Russians who had established their lives in Latvia since 1940 and created stringent requirements for gaining citizenship.

Current laws limit certain rights among non-citizens: disallowing certain property rights; barring non-citizens from voting or participating in any public forum; and prohibiting non-citizens from working in government sectors or in the justice system (judges, lawyers, police). However, non-citizens are allowed visa-free travel to Russia and the EU (since 2006). Additionally, until 2006, Russian non-citizens were exempted from military service, which could positively affect the population cohort considered here (Ivlevs and King, 2010). Latvian officials suggest that many non-citizens unduly benefit from the advantages of this convenient status. This paper seeks to determine to what
extent Russian citizens and non-citizens fare differently from the current set of laws in Latvia. I hypothesize that Russian non-citizens are at a disadvantage in consumption stemming from their exclusion from particular professions and the political process.

I will use the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Life in Transition II (LITS II) survey data for my quantitative analysis. This second wave contains data from countries throughout the Eastern European transition region, including Latvia. I will employ propensity score matching to determine the difference between Russian citizens' and non-citizens' consumption (consumption is the outcome of variable because income was not asked in the survey; however, the consumption variable serves as a valid proxy of income since it includes a number of areas including savings).

The survey took place in late 2010 and contains a rich dataset of a variety of demographic, socioeconomic, and attitudinal variables, as well as data describing the impact of the recent global economic crisis. Because of the timing of the survey, I will also assess the impact the global recession had on the results I find.

To read the full paper click here.

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Judging the Book by its Cover: Latvian Integration Beyond the Headlines
Indra Ekmanis

While the Baltic States are often mistaken for their geographic homonym, the Balkans, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are far from experiencing the type of ethnic cleansing that took place in Yugoslavia with the collapse of communism. Still, Estonia and Latvia in particular, are home to very ethnically diverse populations. Individuals who identify themselves as Russians or Russian-speakers make up more than a quarter of the population in each country. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, these states have struggled to appropriately integrate the sizable minority population into Estonian and Latvian society. Indeed, they are often identified internationally — and domestically — by their integration failures.

Both Estonia and Latvia have faced numerous cases in the European Court of Human Rights and have weathered political and media blitzes from Russia, the “ethnic homeland” of the majority of their minority populations. The rhetoric surrounding minority integration in these Baltic states is quite damning, but is it accurate? In this thesis I focus on Latvia as a case study of integration that is working beyond the amplified voices of politicians and the headlines. This thesis looks at integration in two issue areas, (1) education reforms, and (2) citizenship legislation. I argue that the country has made real progress in bringing the post-Soviet Russian-speaking population of 1991 closer to a real part of Latvian society in 2013. This is not to say Latvia has “succeeded;” continued improvements to social integration are necessary. However, in the two decades after reestablishing independence, Latvia is moving in a positive direction, despite the deafening din arguing the contrary.

To read the full paper click here.

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Urban Multilingualism in Lithuania
Meiulte Ramoniene

Since the restoration of independence in 1990, Lithuania like other Baltic countries, has undergone a dramatic socio-political transformation accompanied by socio-linguistic changes. The nature of bilingualism and multilingualism has completely changed in Lithuania. A radical departure from the Soviet-era asymmetric bilingualism model that meant bilingualism of titular ethnicities and monolingualism of Russian-speakers has occurred. The new language policy influenced, in particular, language attitudes and behavior of ethnic minorities. The most obvious changes in language attitudes and behavior are noticed in the biggest cities of Lithuania where the increasing process of globalization stimulates the development of new multilingualism. Not only ethnic minorities but also Lithuanians in the cities of Lithuania are distinguished for their linguistic repertoire which has changed. The linguistic attitudes and behavior of the people living in the biggest cities of Lithuania make a big influence on the changes of socio-linguistic situation in Lithuania.

Based on a newly acquired quantitative and qualitative data from two research projects of language use and language attitudes carried out in Lithuanian cities and towns this paper aims at exploring new developments of multilingualism in Lithuania. The paper will focus on the following issues: the repertoire of home languages; language dominance and preference; the relationship between home languages and construction of ethnic identity; the role of the age factor and the ethnic factor in these processes.

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REECAS Program
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