European parliamentarian Miroslav Mitrofanov (co-chair Union of Latvian Russians Party) left a post on Facebook saying European Parliament’s Committee for Petitions discussed a petition of 20,000 residents of Latvia and Estonia concerning electoral rights of non-citizens.
Initially, the petition referred the number of European parliamentarians from Latvia and Estonia that is based on the total number of citizens and non-citizens in each country, but non-citizens have no right to vote for their parliamentarians. “However, during a three-hour-long discussion, all the issues related to non-citizens were addressed, including history, legal aspects and naturalization process. We lacked only one vote to leave the petition on non-citizens open i.e. to return to it later. This time, the faction of liberals supported the right-wing forces in their unwillingness to go deeper into the problem of citizenship. We have to start everything from the very beginning – organize a petition to the parliament, seek support and achieve discussion of the petition. We have got used to it. The race is got by running!” Mitrofavov says. In his words, during discussions, he told about the leader of the Congress on Non-Citizens Alexander Gaponenko, whom the Latvian government jailed just before discussion of the petition on non-citizens.
Mitrofanov’s post in Facebook prompted heated debates. European parliamentarian from Estonia Yana Toom wrote: “Miroslav, I’m speechless. The petition was written in my bureau. We, my bureau, collected almost ten thousand signatures. There are three liberals in the Committee: two of them – me and Beatriz Becerra Basterechea were in the hall. The third one – Cecilia Wikström – is the Committee chair. Hearings were pushed through by liberals. You heard how we voted and what we said. Do you really have any claims to me??? P.S. And again, I am a liberal.”
European parliamentarian from Latvia Andrejs Mamikins (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) clarified saying, “Closing of the petition was pushed through due to the vote of Ivari Padar, social-democrat from Estonia, who voted today not in line with our group.”
“It is frustrating when one is not allowed to track your work to see who votes and which bottom presses. It is a kind of synergy in the Russian style,” Yana Toom said.