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Tatyana Zhdanok

Tatyana Zhdanok

Tatyana Zhdanok (Latvian: Tatjana Ždanoka; Russian: Татьяна Аркадьевна Жданок; nee Hesina; May 8, 1950, Riga) – is a Latvian politician and the first Russian-speaking Member of the European Parliament. Co-chairperson of the Board of the political party «Latvian Russian Union».

Tatyana Zhdanok was born in Riga in the Russian-Jewish family and considered Russian as her mother tongue.

Her grandparents were doctors and worked in Riga.

Her parents for a long time lived in Leningrad, her father was the IInd World War participant and the military officer of the Baltic fleet, mother - a teacher of maths.

In 1952 Tatyana's parents moved to Riga where she graduated from the faculty of physics and mathematics of the University of Latvia and did post-graduate programme. From 1972 to 1990 she taught maths at the University of Latvia.

In 1980 Tatyana Zhdanok gained the scientific candidate degree in physics and mathematics. In 1982/83 Tatyana had internship in France. In 1992 she became the doctor of maths.

During the Soviet times Tatyana Zhdanok was a member of the Communist party, but when the so-called “perestroika” occurred in 1988 she joined the People's front of Latvia. However, when the activities of the People's Front became diverted to nationalism and ethnocentrism, in 1989 she got involved in the activities of the “International Front”, which contrary to the People's Front called for the preservation of the Soviet Union including Latvia as its constituent part.

In 1989 Tatyana Zhdanok was elected member of Riga City Council and next year – member of the Supreme Council of Latvia. This Parliament functioned till 1993 implementing the transition to the state independence of Latvia.

Nevertheless, Tatyana Zhdanok criticized the trend of the Declaration of Independence based on the concept of restoration of the pre-war Republic of  Latvia and, consequently, on restoration of pre-war citizenship.

In 1992, Tatyana Zhdanok became one of the founders of the  Latvian Human Rights Committee on which rendered legal service to Latvian residents deprived of their legal rights and forced to leave Latvia though it was their native land. The Committee prepared reports to international organizations and advocated the idea of social integration.

Tatyana Zhdanok herself suffered from unfair citizenship laws and had to assert her lawful right to Latvian citizenship through legal proceedings in court.

Tatyana Zhdanok managed the shooting of TV series “Saprast” created in the framework of the Confidence Building project of the Council of Europe, designed to the involvement of Russian speaking people in the process of mastering Latvian.

In 1993 Tatyana Zhdanok became one of the founders of the “Equal rights” public movement. She and her associates founded the party “Equal rights” in 1997 which advocated social justice and human rights and became its chairperson.

In 1998 party “Equal rights” together with two other left-wing parties created the political union “For Human Rights in United Latvia”. In 2003 there was a split in the union due to political incongruences.  After the split, the “Equal rights” party inherited the name of the union. In 2014, the party was renamed to the “Latvian Russian Union”.

Tatyana Zhdanok as a leader of the party rendered the utmost support of the movement for the protection of Russian schools which conducted mass protest actions against the transformation of these schools into the ones of Latvian as the only language of instruction.

In 1998 Tatyana Zhdanok was banned from running for the Latvian parliament and then deprived of her mandate in the Riga City Council, because she had participated in two seats of the Communist Party's Audit Committee after January 1991. Subsequently, she sued Latvia in the European Court of Human Rights. With the court case pending, the Latvian parliament decided not to impose restrictions on former members of the Communist Party in the Law on the European Parliament Elections. In June 2004 Tatyana Zhdanok won the court case. Latvia appealed the decision to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. On 2006, the court ruled that Ždanoka's rights had not been violated. The Court also called the Latvian legislature to "keep the statutory restriction under constant review, with a view to bringing it to an early end… The failure by the Latvian legislature to take active steps in this connection may result in a different finding by the Court". In 2018, Tatyana Zhdanok was for the second time banned from running for the Latvian parliament. Her application was subsequently submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2004 Tatyana Zhdanok was elected to the European Parliament representing the union “For Human Rights in United Latvia” and became the first native Russian-speaking member of it. She joined the left-centrist group of the ”Greens / European Free Alliance”.

In 2009, 2014 and 2019 Tatyana Zhdanok was re-elected to the European Parliament.

One of the main achievements of Tatyana Zhdanok's activities in the European Parliament was promotion of the introduction of free movement of  Latvian and Estonian non-citizens within the European Union. Situation of the traditional ethnic and linguistic minorities, in particular the Russian-speakers in the Baltic States, has become one of her priorities.

Tatyana Zhdanok is highly esteemed in Latvia, Russia and Europe for her activities in the field of Human Rights.

Main publications

  • 1979 — «Вероятностный аналог теоремы Хана-Банаха и его применение к исследованию случайных операторных уравнений». Доклады Академии наук Украинской ССР, Кiev
  • 1980 — «Случайные линейные операторы в Банаховых пространствах» Автореферат диссертации на соискание ученой степени кандидата физико-математических наук, Donetsk
  • 1983 — «Opérateurs et fonctionnelles aleatoires dans les champs mesurables». Seminaire d’analyse convexe, Montpellier
  • 1986 — «Случайные линейные функционалы на измеримых полях нормированных пространств». Успехи математических наук, Моscow
  • 2004 — «25 вопросов Татьяне Жданок», Riga
  • 2006 — «The Last Prisoners of the Cold War. The Stateless People of Latvia in their own Words» (with co-authors), Riga
  • 2008 — «Citizens of a Non-Existent State» (with co-authors), Riga
  • 2009 — «Европейский дневник», Riga
  • 2017 — «Русские Латвии на изломе веков. От заката СССР до кризиса Евросоюза» (with co-author), Riga