VILNIUS - Doubts over the eligibility of leading presidential candidate Dalia Grybauskaite have been cleared after the candidate published her own and her mother's birth certificates.
Doubts over the true ethnic origin of Dalia Grybauskaite, a member of the European Commission and the most popular candidate for the Lithuanian Presidency, were raised by Zigmas Vaisvila, a signatory of the Lithuanian Independence Restoration Act and the former head of the State Security department in the early 1990s.
The Lithuanian Law on Presidential elections provides that only a citizen of Lithuanian origin is eligible to run in the elections. Vaisvila claimed that Grybauskaite is not of Lithuanian origin, because her father's name is Polikarpas 's which is of Greek origin 's and because he believed her mother is not Lithuanian either.
"If information that Grybauskaite's mother is Raissa Gapanova is correct, there are reasonable doubts whether this candidate is of Lithuanian origin" he wrote in a request to the Central Electoral Committee (CEC) demanding that Grybauskaite be banned from running for the post.
Following the letter, Grybauskaite published her birth certificate on her personal Web site. The birth certificate indicates both parents, Polikarpas Grybauskas and Vitalija Grybauskiene, as Lithuanians.
The CEC rejected Vaisvila's request to disallow Grybauskaite's participation in the elections on May 17.
Zenonas Vaigauskas, the head of CEC, confirmed to The Baltic Times that the data of all candidates was verified at the initial stage of registration and resulted in rejection of one of the candidates. Both parents of Valdimiras Romanovas, a businessman, a banker and the main shareholder of Edinburgh's "Hearts" football team, were not of Lithuanian origin and he possesses an acquired Lithuanian citizenship.
The last version of the law on citizenship provides that a person is of Lithuanian origin, if his or her parents or grandfathers are Lithuanians and the person recognizes himself or herself as Lithuanian.
It is not clear whether "Lithuanians" in this formulation is a reference to citizenship or ethnic origin.
The issue of citizenship and ethnicity has been a key factor in the upcoming presidential elections, which may coincide with a proposed referendum on constitutional amendments to allow dual citizenship.
Though no initiatives for the referendum have been registered so far, numerous politicians have discussed the possibility of holding it alongside the May 17 elections. The proposed referendum has strong support from many Lithuanian politicians, including the current President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus 's himself a former citizen of the U.S.A.
Grybauskaite and another female candidate for the presidency, Kazimiera Danute Prunskiene, also proclaimed on May 11 that they support the dual citizenship bill.
"The question of citizenship must be solved as soon as possible; the emigrants of our little nation must have open doors back to their homeland and integration to national and economic life. I support the [idea of] dual citizenship for Lithuanian emigrants," said Prunskiene, a former minister of economy.
Grybauskaite said she tends to agree to establishment of dual citizenship, but does not think that emigrants may bring significant economic profit because the Lithuanian Diaspora is too small.
"I think I am for dual citizenship," Grybauskaite said.
When asked whether American ice skater Katherine Copely should receive Lithuanian citizenship as an exception, the candidate replied with further deliberation, claiming that this question must be well considered because other athletes might want it as well.
"I don't know whether we should be in a hurry, because someone will glorify our name. It would be better if we glorified our name," suggested Grybauskaite.