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The Daily Vertical: Farewell, Russian World (Transcript)


The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Just one more sign that ethnicity and language don't necessarily translate into political loyalty.

Just one more signal that Moscow's grip on ethnic Russians and Russian speakers abroad is not all it's cracked up to be.

Just one more indication that the so-called Russian World is largely a fiction manufactured by Kremlin spin doctors.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

Latvian media reported last week that the center-left party Harmony, led by the ethnic Russian mayor of Riga, Nils Usakovs, has terminated its 8-year-old cooperation agreement with United Russia.

The agreement was signed amid much fanfare in St. Petersburg back in October 2009.

But in 2015, after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and armed intervention in the Donbas, Usakovs emphatically told The Guardian that he was "a Russian-speaking Latvian who is a patriot of my country."

And last week's announcement made it clear that, with elections coming next year, Harmony has decided that its future -- and that of the ethnic Russians it represents -- lies in Latvia and in Europe, not in Moscow.

This, of course, is part of a trend we've seen elsewhere.

We've seen it in Russophone cities in Ukraine like Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Mariupol.

We've seen it in Russophone Estonian cities like Narva.

We're even increasingly seeing it in Belarus.

And we're also seeing it with the thousands of Russian citizens who have emigrated to the Baltic states and Ukraine, who have worked hard to become constructive members of those societies, and who have made it clear that they are not interested in being part of Vladimir Putin's Russian World.

Values are increasingly trumping ethnicity -- and that's good news. And it's a trend we are likely to see more of in the future.

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