Nils Muižnieks, commissioner for human rights, Council of Europe
Appeared in print on 15.11.2012
Being a moderate can make you a lot of enemies in some parts of the world, as Nils Muižnieks knows. As a top human-rights expert in Latvia in the uneasy 1990s, and later as integration minister, he tried to steer a reasonable middle path between unforgiving nationalists and obdurate Slavic minorities over how to naturalise so-called non-citizens – an explosive issue that at the time was germane to Latvia’s aspirations to join the EU. Muižnieks believed that the state should do more to integrate non-citizens – mainly ethnic Russians who numbered more than half a million – and wanted the rules to be relaxed, especially for children of non-citizens born after 1991, when Latvia regained its independence.