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Latvia’s ruling parties, meanwhile, have issued an official statement in support of a single official language. They are encouraging voters to participate in the referendum and deny Russian inclusion.

Latvian President Andris Berzins recently announced he would vote against the referendum, which some politicians suspect has been orchestrated by the Kremlin.

“The whole thing is related to state Duma and presidential elections in Russia. In order to win, the ruling party needs to create an enemy abroad so that there is something to unite against,” said lawmaker Dzintars Rasnacs of the nationalist National Alliance party.

He said Russia has chosen Latvia as that country, which is presented as a place where Russian speakers are discriminated against.

Referendum supporters deny claims of Kremlin involvement.

“There is a medical term for this, and it’s paranoia,” Mr. Osipov said. “We live off donations, and our funding is completely transparent. These are just conspiracy theories. Some people always want to find someone to blame, be it Jews, Russians or the Kremlin.”

The referendum will need about 800,000 votes to pass. About 600,000 Latvians identify themselves as ethnic Russian, according to a recent census.

Some analysts see the referendum as a tool for the political parties to boost their popularity.

“During the 20 years of Latvia’s independence, our political elite were very eager to bring up painful subjects,” said Ivars Ijabs, assistant professor at the University of Latvia. “Today they are doing it again.

“Language is an identity question for ethnic Latvians. It’s painful, and these days, some people feel alarmed.”

c Louise Osborne in Berlin contributed to this report.