Riga mayor is fined for using Russian on social media

Latvia's State Language Center has fined Nils Ušakovs, the mayor of Riga, for using the Russian language in social media accounts belonging to the Riga city council. Ušakovs, who says he learned about the fine from reporters, says the language center acted illegally and he plans to appeal the fine. 

“The law on the state language doesn't say a word about regulations on the language of the government's communications with its citizens over foreign social networks,” the mayor argued. 

The amount of the fine has not been reported.

I think the State Language Center would be better off doing what it's good at—for instance, thinking about what to call “Pokemons” in Latvian. That's about all it's good for.

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Nils Ušakovs serves as the mayor of Riga and the chairman of the city's legislative assembly. The assembly operates an information portal in two languages (Latvian and Russian), and each version has its own social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The State Language Center's issue with the Riga assembly's Russian-language accounts first surfaced in February 2015, when the center demanded that Ušakovs explain the existence of the Russian-language accounts on social media. In May 2015, the center opened a case against Ušakovs for giving a speech in Russian and a Victory Day rally. (The demonstration's organizers were later held responsible for failing to arrange a translation of the mayor's remarks into Latvian.)

The State Language Center monitors and enforces national laws regulating the use of the Latvian language. In the first half of 2016, the center launched 249 cases and fined 180 individuals for language offenses, including 139 people for failing to speak Latvian while performing official state duties.