RIGA - The Supreme Court Senate upheld a ruling by two lower courts on April 11 supporting the government's decision in 2004 to deny citizenship to Juris Petropavlovskis, an anti-education reform activist. The decision was final and can no longer be appealed in the Republic of Latvia.
After the court hearing on April 11, Petropavlovskis told reporters that after receiving the full text of the judgment he would decide whether to file an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights or the U.S. Human Rights Commission.
Petropavlovskis' lawyer, Aleksejs Dimitrovs, said that the defendant may claim that his right to a fair trial was violated, along with his right to get elected, adding that the court verdict had to be studied first. The defendant has six months to lodge his complaint with international human rights institutions.
Before the case began, Dimitrovs had asked the Supreme Court Senate to reverse an administrative regional court's decision to forward the case to another regional court for hearing. He noted that the government's decision to deny citizenship to Petropavloskis was an administrative act and not a political decision that cannot be appealed.
The government authorized the Justice Ministry as its legal representation, which in turn asked the court to dismiss Petropavlovskis' claim. Almost all of the plaintiff's arguments, they claimed, had already been heard and rejected by a regional court.
The government's 2004 decision to deny Petropavlovskis citizenship was made despite a statement by Security Police that the activist had passed all requirements laid out in the citizenship law and should therefore be able to naturalize.
Never before had a person been denied citizenship after a successful naturalization test.
Dimitrovs argued that the government could not use citizenship as a weapon of political struggle. "Only the Supreme Court Senate can decide whether it is an administrative act or a political decision," the lawyer said.
As one of the key leaders of the self-proclaimed Headquarters for Protection of Russian Schools in Latvia, an organization that loudly opposes the state's education reform, which aims to increase the use of the Latvian language in minority schools, the government decided that Petropavlovskis posed "a threat to the state," and thereby refused him naturalization in November 2004