Citizens and Enemies and Aliens, Oh My! Or, How Latvia Gave Me an Alien Passport in the Country of My Birth

By David S. Silverman and Olga Silverman.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

On March 3, 1991, a majority of the population of Latvia, which consisted of nearly equal parts of ethnic Latvians and non-ethnic Latvians, voted for independence from the Soviet Union. Many of the political leaders at that time reached out to all residents--both Latvian and non-Latvian alike--in order to achieve this majority. While all were given equal status for the first free election, this would soon end. Rather than grant citizenship to everyone residing within the borders of Latvia at the time of independence, Latvian nationalists took revenge for 51 years of Soviet domination by disenfranchising the large non-Latvian ethnic groups. The nationalists accomplished this through a law passed by the new parliament that separated the Latvian population into three categories: 1) citizens, 2) enemies, and 3) aliens. This first group consisted, for the most part, of ethnic Latvians (whether in-country or in exile) and the few non-ethnic Latvians who could prove that their ancestors were Latvian citizens before 1940. The second group consisted of people who were directly affiliated with the Soviet political institutions or military forces. The third group consisted of the remaining non-ethnic Latvian groups, who were given a choice: leave, stay as non-citizens, or go through a complicated and Latvian-biased naturalization process--which many felt was both dehumanizing and humiliating. Sixteen years later, more than twenty percent of Latvia's populace remains in this limbo of non-citizen status, and this research explores why such a large non-citizenry still persists.

Keywords: Latvia, Naturalization, Non-Citizens, Former Soviet Republic

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp.87-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 574.229KB).

Dr. David S. Silverman

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Valley City State University, Valley City, North Dakota, USA

Dr. David S. Silverman (B.A. in English, Florida State University, 1992; M.A. in English Studies from Illinois State University, 1994; Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Missouri, 2004). Following a six-year career as a technical writer in Denver, Colorado, working for various software and telecommunication companies--including a journey to Antarctica, he left the professional arena to work on a doctorate in communication. Dr. Silverman joined the faculty at Xavier University in New Orleans the fall of 2004 until Hurricane Katrina forced his family to evacuate.

Olga Silverman

Valley City State University, Valley City, North Dakota, USA

Olga Silverman (Master’s in Engineering Economics, University of Latvia, 1995). Born and raised in Riga, Latvia, Mrs. Silverman had a three-year engineering career before working for both the Ukrainian Embassy and the Latvian Ship Registry. She then worked as logistics manager for a telecommunication concern before moving to the United States to be with her husband in 2003. Immediately following their evacuation to Colorado, Dr. and Mrs. Silverman rejoiced in the birth of their first child, Stephanie. Dr. Silverman has recently finished his forth-coming text on the history of corporate censorship of television in the United States, and is a member of the faculty at Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota.


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