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The Restored Republic of Latvia

The restoration of Latvian independence was facilitated by a number of conditions and events in the USSR and Latvia in the second half of the 1980s. The logical chain started with the reforms carried out by Gorbachev after he became Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in April 1985. From the very start of the course of implementation of this policy, it turned against Gorbachev's own political position in other areas – preservation of the USSR and the system of socialism, albeit in a liberalized form (socialism with a human face). Thus during the Chautauqua Conference of public representatives of the USSR and the US held in Jurmala in September 1986, the representatives of the US openly declared that the US had never recognized and do not recognize the incorporation of Latvia into the USSR in 1940.

7 – 8 January 1989: the International Front of Workers of the Latvian SSR is founded as a counterbalance against the Latvian Popular Front (the LPF).
19 February 1989: the 1st Congress of the Latvian National Independence Movement is held in the town of Ogre.
12 March 1989:  250,000 people gather in a rally organised by the LPF on the banks of the River Daugava.
23 March 1989:  an election of the USSR People's Deputies is held, lists of alternative candidates are allowed to be promoted next to the lists of candidates of the Communist Party for the first time.
23 August 1989: the Baltic Way, a peaceful demonstration of protest by the Baltic nations is held in a human chain from Vilnius via Riga to Tallinn.
15 February 1990: the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR decides to restore the Latvian state sovereignty by restoring the historical Latvian flag, anthem, and coat of arms.
18 March 1990: an election of the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR takes place, victory is gained by the deputy candidates supported by the Latvian Popular Front.
4 May 1990: the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR adopts the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia.
2 November 1990: the OMON attacks the Riga Press House and terrorizes the staff.
2 January 1991: the OMON, a special police task unit of the interior troops of the USSR, takes the Riga Press House, armed attacks on the authorities of the Republic of Latvia are started.
13 – 27 January 1991:  large masses of Latvian citizens participate in the protection of objects of national importance on the barricades in Riga.
15 January 1991: the All-Latvian Public Rescue Committee attempts to seize power in Latvia by announcing the dismissal of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia.
20 January 1991: the OMON attacks the Latvian Ministry of the Interior and kills several people.
3 March 1991: a popular survey about a democratic and independent Republic of Latvia is held, with 2/3 of the population voting for the restoration of the state independence.
21 August 1991: the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia adopts a constitutional law on the  Statehood of the Republic of Latvia, proclaiming the Republic of Latvia as an independent state.
23 August 1991: the Republic of Iceland is the first country in the world to announce recognition of the statehood of Latvia.
11 September 1991: the national independence of Latvia is recognized by the USSR.
18 September 1991: Latvia is admitted to the UN.
4 October 1991:  the foreign ministers of Latvia and Russia sign minutes on the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
19 March 1992: withdrawal of the Russian troops from Latvia is started; it is completed in 1994. The Skrunda radar station remains the only military object under Russian control and is dismantled in 1998.
5 March 1993: Latvia starts the withdrawal of the Latvian rouble and puts the first banknotes of 5 Latvian lats into circulation.
5 – 6 June 1993: an election of the 5th Saeima is held; Latvijas Ceļš (Union Latvian Way) wins the election with 36 mandates. The other parties and unions elected to the Parliament are LNNK un Tēvzemei un Brīvībai (the Latvian Movement for National Independence and For Fatherland and Freedom, Kristīgo demokrātu savienība (the Union of Democratic Christians), Latvijas Zemnieku savienība (Latvian Farmers’ Union), Demokrātiskā centra partija (the Democratic Centre Party), Saskaņa Latvijai – atdzimšana tautsaimniecībai (Union Harmony for Latvia – Revival of the National Economy), and Līdztiesība (Equality). The voter turnout was very high: votes were cast by 89.9% of a total of 1.1 million voters.
6 July 1993: the Saeima restores the full operation of Satversme (Latvian Constitution), the deputies vote for the restoration of the Constitution, State President as the institution of the Head of the State of Latvia, and the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

Following the restoration of independence radical economic reforms were implemented in Latvia through the introduction of the principles of free market and privatization of state-owned enterprises. A decline in export opportunities and a focus on transit and banking services distorted the Latvian economy. The gross domestic product per capita grew slowly, reaching only 25% of the average EU level in 1999. However, the low wages and the relatively well-educated labour force helped attract substantial foreign investments.

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