Minister asks president to strip Liepa of Lithuanian citizenship

  • 2023-11-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite on Friday formally asked President Gitanas Nauseda to strip Ilze Liepa, a Russian ballet dancer, of her Lithuanian citizenship granted by way of exception.  

In Lithuanian authorities' assessment, Liepa, through her actions and public statements, poses a threat to Lithuania's security interests and openly expresses support for the aggressor state Russia, the Interior Ministry said in a press release.   

The initiative to deprive Liepa, who holds both Lithuanian and Russian passports, of her Lithuanian citizenship comes after the ballet dancer's interview with Russian media in which she condemned the Baltic states for their behavior and expressed her support for President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

After Lithuania launched the procedure for revoking her citizenship, the ballet dancer said she had no intention of changing her stance.

The Migration Department, which was instructed by the Interior Ministry to start the citizenship revocation procedure, has received a response from the State Security Department (SSD) that by denying and publicly justifying Russia's war against Ukraine, Liepa openly denounces the Baltic states for their policies that are not in line with the Kremlin regime's interests.

"Liepa thus clearly expresses support for the international crimes committed by the Russian Federation and its aggressive foreign policy, which poses a threat to Lithuania's national security," according to the press release.

The SSD also says that Liepa is loyal to the Russian regime and could be used by Russian state institutions or intelligence services that operate against Lithuania.

In the Foreign Ministry's assessment, Liepa's statements and public information shared on social media platforms bolster the Russian regime's power, aiding in the spreading of the narrative of Russia as a "world savior", disparaging the Western world and its values, and emphasizing Russian "cultural superiority" over the West, which is fully in line with the Kremlin's propaganda.

In the Migration Department's assessment, in her public statements, Liepa identifies herself only as a Russian citizen and declares her allegiance to only one country, which is Russia.

According to the Interior Ministry, Liepa violates her oath of allegiance to Lithuania through her actions and discredits the name of Lithuania and poses a threat to national security interests by collaborating with a regime hostile to Lithuania.  

Under the Law on Citizenship, a person granted Lithuanian citizenship by way of exception may lose it if their actions pose a threat to Lithuania's security interests and if the person publicly express support for a state that poses a threat to the security interests of Lithuania or other EU member states, or of their allies.

Based on this provision, Nauseda has stripped Margarita Drobiazko of her Lithuanian citizenship. The Russian ice dancer, together with her Lithuanian husband Povilas Vanagas, participated in projects organized by the wife of Russian president's press secretary.

Regarding the revocation of Liepa's citizenship, Nauseda said previously that he was waiting for the Interior Ministry's formal request and the Citizenship Commission's recommendations.

The daughter of Maris Liepa, a Soviet-era Latvian-born ballet dancer, was granted Lithuanian citizenship by way of exception in 2000.

It was stated at the time that the Moscow Bolshoi Theater soloist had been granted citizenship for her collaboration of more than a decade with Lithuanian ballet performer Petras Skirmantas.