A quarter of a century ago, Latvia presented territorial claims to Russia, which has long determined the tone in relations between the two countries. We are talking in particular about the city of Pytalovo, and in return Putin promised to Latvians “from a dead donkey ears”. Legally, this conflict is already settled, but the topic still lives. What I hope the Latvians?
Twenty-five years ago, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia adopted the decision not to recognize “the annexation of the town of Abrene and the six parishes abrenskogo of the County.” Abrene the Latvians call Russian town of Pytalovo in Pskov region. Although to date, Latvia officially abandoned the revanchist part of the society continues to nurture the dream of “our Abrene”.
Trough of contention
“The press often wrote about the natives of Pytalovo, who do not wish to have their passports country of birth was listed Russia”
This settlement, founded in 1863, is small – less than five and a half thousand of the population. According to legend, the name of their town allegedly received in memory of Lieutenant guards Pytalovo, who owned lands here in the reign of Catherine II. However, Latvians show that this name – derived from “Talava”: was once close to in the XIII century Latgalian Principality with the same name.
Centuries later, according to the terms signed in Riga on 11 August 1920 a peace Treaty, the Bolsheviks gave the newly formed Latvian Republic a significant part of Ostrovsky uyezd, together with the Pytalovo. “At the talks that the Latvian side was led with the Soviet representatives, the claims on Abrene was nominated for one reason only- there is a railway junction that has postpone joint path going through Latgale. That is why the Soviet government decided to give”, said later historian Konstantin Gaivoronsky. The new owners renamed the village in Jaunlatgale (“New Latgale”), gave him the status of a city and the administrative ranked as the Ludza district.
In 1938 the city received new name – Abrene. This place-name is associated with Latvian word abra (“trough”), as used in the application to the boggy, waterlogged fields and forests. Later, when Latvia became part of the Soviet Union, Abrene at the request of its inhabitants was included in the Pskov region – on the basis that the population of the Abrene remained predominantly Russian. The city once again became known as Pytalovo.
In the early ‘ 90s, Latvia, escaping from the Soviet embrace, has refused to recognize the “weaning Abrene”. It is because of these claims side for a decade and a half could not sign a border Treaty. In Latvia itself, however, was in full swing for this reason fierce debate. “Doesn’t hurt if I had a heart for Abrene? Of course, it hurts! I ran in Latgale, he was born there, so very worried about the situation that has developed in Abrene. My opinion is the Latvian land, which Russia forcefully seized. Abrene is a part of Latvia, there lives many Latvians. Russified, but with Latvian roots. What happened with the territory – this is an example of occupation, they simply can not be called. So give up Abrene, and to give the Latvian territory of Russia for ever in any case can not” – passionately urged the right-wing politician Peteris Tabuns.
He opposed the MEP Tatyana Zhdanok: “Latvia anybody gives nothing: the border is fixed, and the territorial division carried out. I believe that the actualization of this issue is a powder keg. And if we talk about the peace Treaty of 1920 and the territories that now belong to Latvia, it is very painful to look at the situation in Latgale. There is 80% of the population speak Russian and can’t use this language at the official level”. Really, what’s the point of attach Pytalovo? In order to make local residents-citizens and to unleash them on the language?
In turn, the Chairman of the parliamentary foreign Affairs Commission Alexander Kirshtejns referred to the head of the international Affairs Committee of the Federation Council Mikhail Margelov allegedly told him that Russia is ready to buy Latvia’s money. “Margelov said that Russia could discuss the issue, and several million dollars is not a huge amount for it. Later its position that Mr. Margelov was confirmed in the Council of Europe,” said Kirsteins. However, in his opinion, for Latvians it is desirable to obtain the territory, not the money.
From the Russian side is most clearly made by Vice-speaker of the state Duma Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Bright in the sense that the Latvians of his speech was remembered particularly well. “Latvia never any Pytalovo district will not receive. Pytalovo was always part of the Pskov province and the Russian Empire. I am aware of the developments that are underway by our side in respect of Daugavpils. This town was called Borisoglebsk. It would be desirable to return it to the Russian Federation, since he is Latvian, he was not – everything was done in the framework of the USSR. This issue should be solved. So Kirsteins was wrong. We could talk about it. Latvia needs to understand that if it joined the EU and NATO, it is going to release all the territories that do not belong. And then we will proceed from these prospects and see what might be the concessions made by Latvia in favor of Russia”, – declared the leader of the LDPR.
From a dead donkey ears
The Kremlin’s official position is that after the entry of Latvia into the USSR Treaty of 1920 has ceased to operate – period, the subject of discussion is missing. This prolonged litigation because of Pytalovo owes its existence to one of the catch phrase of President Vladimir Putin. Meeting with the press in March of 2005, he said: “Not Pytalovsky they will receive, and a dead donkey ears”. At the same time Putin recalled that at the time of disintegration of the USSR, Russia and so went on an unprecedented territorial concessions, in order to prevent the repetition of the Yugoslav scenario, but more public areas throw not a trace. In General, utrites, will not get you Kem parish!
In Latvia, Putin’s phrase spawned then an uproar – it saw the act of humiliation by its Eastern neighbor. “Mr Putin has taken the first step. Two donkey ear for Abrene we already have. Now we have to wait for the compensation for lost Abrensky parish will increase,” – said the MP from the right-wing radicals Juris Dobelis.
It seemed that now the quarrel will never end, but already in 2007, Latvia suddenly agreed to abandon its claims, and long-suffering border Treaty has concluded. Later, then-President Vaira Vike-Freiberga explained that this step had to go in order to resolve the situation of Latvia in the EU and NATO membership in these organizations suggests a lack of unresolved territorial disputes with third countries. “I would like to keep Abrene, but it was impossible,” complained Vike-Freiberga. According to her, she has long doubted the correctness of this decision – after all, Cyprus was able to join the EU, even despite the occupation of its territories by Turkey. “But anyway Latvia had no chance to regain Abrene,” admitted Vike-Freiberga. Her regret is understandable, because the prisoner during the period of its presidency pogratulowac led to a serious decline in the popularity of the President in “national consciousness” of the society.
With the “filing Abrene” agreed in Latvia not all. Almost immediately, the constitutional court took into consideration the legality of the signing of the border Treaty. This was done at the request of a large group of Latvian politicians, who found here no less a violation of the Constitution. One of them, former Minister Ainars Latkovskis, argued that if not for the haste of the government, Latvia could count on a large compensation for Pytalovo – in the future, “when Russia becomes a democratic country.” However, according to Latkovskis, could be another way: “If Russia will give us Abrene and drive out its population, it will be one of the possibilities of solving the problem.”
“Apparently, the Kremlin wanted to show that dead donkey ears and a free lunch you can buy any donkey our political elite”
In early 2007, a few months before the signing of the Treaty took place in Riga major rallies of the radical nationalist party “All – Latvia!”. Hefty swells in the frost undressed to the waist and showed to the journalists as if carved on the body and bleeding the names of Latvian cities, while on the chest of the leader of the party Raivis Dzintars sported large letters “ABRENE”. Protesters sang folk songs and chanted: “My honor my people!” “Freedom To Abrene!” The posters said: “Pogratulowac with Putin’s Russia – the death of the independence of Latvia”, “New pogratulowac – prologue the last act of the plundering of the state”, “Abrene Today or tomorrow citizenship.” The latest slogan expressed the fear that the authorities suddenly this hand out citizenship of the country three hundred thousand Latvian non-citizens. “We want to show lawmakers that there are people who can not think only about their personal comfort and well – being” – pathetically said Dzintars. And the then foreign Minister Artis Pabriks met with the protesters yelling: “Traitor!”
At that moment, all these politicians are perceived as hopeless outcasts – and few imagined that just a few years, the party doesn’t just take place in Parliament, but also included in the ruling coalition, and those same swells to occupy chairs of the deputies and high-ranking officials. But with the increasing respectability of their slogans radicals refused. A few days ago Janis Dumbrava – the Deputy of the Sejm from the National bloc, which included “All – Latvia!”, voiced on air of transfer “Morning panorama” on “Latvian television” the list “agents of Russian influence”, the founders, in his opinion, in state agencies and in the private sector. In particular, mentioned the name of the current head of the group “Latvian gas”, ex-Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, in the era of the Board which was signed pogratulowac with Russia.
“Latvia is pulling the tiger’s whiskers”
Pytalovo is still remembered in Latvia for any occasion and even for no reason. Those same radicals stubbornly cursing the authorities for excessive pliability. “In Latvia thought: let’s give Russia the Abrene and Russia will be good. But this is not and never could be. Only Russia Latvia imposes its will, and we give,” said the infamous writer Aivars Garda called to pursue the departure from the Republic living here “Russian invaders”. According to him, “Abrene is our homeland, and to give part of the country is like to pay part of their body cut off an arm or a leg.” In turn, the journalist Elita veidemane compared held at the beginning of 2014, the abandonment of the national currency – the lats and the Euro adoption with a waiver of Abrene – say, in both cases, the opinion of the people was not asked.
In the press frequently wrote about the natives of Pytalovo, who do not wish to have their passports country of birth were listed for Russia (RSFSR). Going to meet them, the interior Ministry in 2009 has prepared amendments to the rules of issuance of passports: all who were born before October 1945 in Abrene, Augspils, Havre, Kazanskoe, Linevsky, Perumalsamy or Upmanship parishes were allowed to specify in the passport the place of birth Latvia. Meanwhile, these areas are now part of the Russian Federation.
Opposition activist Eduard Goncharov was indignant about this: “In some cases, Latvia purposefully pulling the tiger’s whiskers. Yes, these people technically were born in Latvia. But now that the border agreement has been signed, this step simply doesn’t make sense. This is the same as to print maps that include Abrensky County in the Latvian roster, or try to rewrite history.”
On the contrary, the politician Dainis Ivans wrote with indignation about the meeting of ex-Prime Minister Kalvitis with Putin, who offered the guest a hearty lunch. “It’s hard to say that feeding of Kalvitisa wanted to tell Putin to the Russian people. Probably the same as Latvians. Apparently, the Kremlin wanted to show that dead donkey ears and a free lunch you can buy any donkey our political elite”. Evans added that Putin probably wanted to thank the Kalvitisa for “unconditional surrender in the issue of Abrene”.
You can mention that on 1 April 2015 one of the most visited Latvian portals published an article entitled “nyash-myash, Pytalovo is ours!”, author sparkling joked about joining Latvia this coveted piece of land. That theme slowly moves into the category of humorous reflection of the fact that seriously to return the “Abrene” in Latvia have few hopes. But, of course, occasionally this issue will pop up. And for many years.