On May 31, after three rounds of voting, members of the Latvian Saeima (Parliament) elected Edgars Rinkēvičs, who has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2011, as the country’s new president. He will assume his new position on July 8. Rinkēvičs is only the named as one of San Marino’s two captains regent.
“>second openly LGBTQ+ person in the world to hold the post of head of state (which has never happened in any of the countries that were previously part of the USSR). Rinkēvičs was also one of the most popular politicians in the Baltic states in the most recent parliamentary elections, finishing ahead of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Meduza has collected Rinkēvičs statements across the years – about being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Latvia, the situation for Russian speakers, Russia, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On being part of the LGBTQ+ community
- “Our country needs to create a legal framework for partnerships of all kinds. I will fight for that. I know it’s going to be mega-hysteria, but #Proudtobegay.”
- “I proudly announce I’am gay… Good luck all of you…”
Rinkēvičs wrote the two tweets above in November 2014, publicly coming out. At the time, he had already been head of the Latvian Foreign Ministry for three years. Rinkēvičs is the first politician in the country’s history to be openly gay. Seven years later Rinkēvičs said in an interview that coming out was one of the “hardest decisions” of his life.
- “Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (this tweet was published on May 17, 2021 – a note from Meduza). We [Latvia] still have a lot to do to build a country and society free of intolerance and with an appropriate legal framework 🏳️🌈”
- “Today Russia celebrates Russia Day (tweet published on June 12, 2022 –a note from Meduza), I wish Russia defeat in its aggressive war against Ukraine, the abandonment of its imperial ambitions, and that it build a modern, democratic, and law-based state.”
- “A year ago Russia started full scale war against Ukraine, many doubted if Ukrainians would withstand. They did, their moral victory is great. Today many ask, if Ukraine can win militarily. The answer is yes and we must send more weapons, more help. About the people of Latvia and the Russian language
- “We won’t get anywhere through repressive measures alone, so we have to talk, fight, visit schools and neighborhoods, talk to people whose native language is Latvian, or other languages, explain our country’s policies, and call for unity. <…> Dialogue, conversation, maximum positivity for to how to present the values of the Latvian state, how to address people who are confused in one way or another or who have not decided whom they belong to – the Russian world or European Latvia.”
- “If the need arises and I see that this is the best option, I will speak in Russian. <…> Latvian is the main language. But you know, sometimes when I hear the cry of Atkrievisko Latviju! (derussify Latvia), I’d say it differently: Latvisko Latviju (Make Latvia Latvian). And there is a slightly different, more positive connotation.”
On freedom of speech, Russian journalists, and the situation with TV Rain’s license
- “Even in conditions of hybrid warfare, freedom of speech and independent media are necessary.”
- “As #Russia closes independent media and introduces complete censorship, I reiterate Latvia’s readiness to host persecuted Russian journalists and help them in any way we can. Russian public in Russia and around the world must receive truthful and objective information”
- “I now believe that Russian society should have access to depropagandized information. The fact that TV Rain started working for us in the summer was a justified decision, but in military circumstances the conditions are clear: if the principles of being a guest are not respected, then this media has no business being here.”
Bonus: on Latvia’s presidential elections and Latvia’s Ice Hockey World Championship bronze medal
- “What elections… Hockey.”