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Russian Orthodox Christmas may be made public holiday in Latvia after all
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    Russian Orthodox Christmas may be made public holiday in Latvia after all

    RIGA, March 8 (LETA) - The bill about making Russian Orthodox Christmas a public holiday in Latvia was upheld by the Latvian parliament in the first reading today, albeit with a small majority of votes.

    The 100-member parliament upheld the bill in the first reading with 35 votes for (cast mostly by the opposition lawmakers), 21 votes against and seven abstentions while 14 MPs did not took part in the vote.

    It was agreed that the proposals for the second reading of the bill should be accepted until October 5, 2018, or the day before next general elections in Latvia. However, the outgoing parliament will continue working for about a month after the election date until the newly-elected MPs took office.

    The parliamentary committee on human rights and public affairs earlier rejected the proposal. The committee chairwoman, MP Inese Laizane (National Alliance), said that she as a Roman Catholic respected the Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Believers but was against making Russian Ortodox Christmas a public holiday in Latvia because celebrating the same festival twice might split up Latvia's population.

    MP Boriss Cilevics (Harmony) said at the committee meeting that there were around 400,000 members of the Russian Orthodox Church and Old Believers in Latvia, who were being discriminated against because they did not have a day off on their Christmas, and this situation should be changed.

    This particular bill has been stuck in the Latvian parliament for three years and returned to the agenda recently at the initiative of the lawmakers from the opposition pro-Russia Harmony party. Previously the Latvian parliament always rejected the proposals by the lawmakers representing the country's Russian-speaking population to make Russian Orthdox Christmas a public holiday in Latvia.

    • Published: 08.03.2018 16:41
    • LETA
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