VILNIUS - Ukrainian singer Svitlana Loboda who is popular in Russia but currently resides in Latvia and planned a tour of Lithuania's major cities, will be added to Lithuania's list of unwanted persons, Paulina Levickyte, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian foreign minister, confirmed it to BNS on Thursday.
"After consultation with our Ukrainian partners, we are adding the singer to the persona non grata list," she told BNS.
Culture Minister Simonas Kairys told BNS the singer is a citizen of Ukraine and currently lives in Latvia, so, unlike other Russian artists, she is not subject to the existing automatic bans on entry into Lithuania.
"Since we are talking about a private event organizer, private spaces, the only solution is to consider adding such a person to the list of unwanted persons in Lithuania," the minister told BNS.
One of the most popular pop singers of recent years in Russia, Loboda had planned four concerts in Lithuania's major cities of Panevezys, Siauliai, Klaipeda and Vilnius, in late November and early December.
Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT reports that the singer has been actively performing in Russia since Russia's occupation of Crimea, and she also performed at an event held to celebrate the Soviet Union's victory in WW II on May 9 in 2015.
After the war broke out in Ukraine, Loboda moved to the West and wanted to perform at a charity event in Latvia in support of Ukraine, but the organizers did not allow her to do so.
Kairys says the singer poses a risk given her previous stance on Russia.
"Undoubtedly, she always poses a risk. Because given Lithuania's role, speaking of the war, given the perception of a significant part of Ukrainians, naturally, this issue cannot pass quietly," he said, adding that the decision should be made before Loboda's concerts in Lithuania.
Kairys also pointed out that the organizers of some events in Latvia had already cancelled Loboda's performances and urged the representatives of this business in Lithuania to follow suit when they have doubts about performers' stance on the Russian aggression.
"Private event organizers should be aware that they are taking a risk that such a person who poses some risk can be put on the list at any time as we already have a judicial practice for that. And then they are also risking their investments, their event, and the state will be on the side of the right side," Kairys said.
Asked if Latvia, too, is planning to blacklist Loboda, representatives of the Foreign Ministry said that the ministry does not comment on such decisions.