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#17 - JRL 7258
Student's letter draws Putin into row over Russian in Latvia's schools

Riga, 21 July: President Vladimir Putin has answered a letter from Yaroslav Karpelyak, a schoolboy in Latvia. Some time ago Yaroslav wrote a letter to the Russian president, asking to help him get an education in Russian, which is a native language for him.

The letter of President Putin was handed to Yaroslav Karpelyak, a pupil of the fourth form of a Riga grammar school, by Russian ambassador to Latvia Igor Studennikov.

It said: "Thank you for your letter. I am glad you love your school named after Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov, a famous scientist and humanist.

"I understand your desire to be educated, to study in your native language. In many countries of the world children from large ethnic communities have the right to that. For modern Europe it is a criterion of the level of democratic development of this or that country.

"It is clear from your letter that you are a person who is not going to tolerate injustice, that you know how to stand up for yourself and your convictions. And you are not alone in it, which is especially important. I regard it as a guarantee that the Russian language, which has been spoken in Latvia for several centuries, will continue to be spoken there in the future. In my opinion, it will only benefit Latvian society, will enrich Latvian culture and will promote the development of economic cooperation and truly good neighbourly relations between our two countries. This is what we are striving for here in Russia."

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