VILNIUS - Having been stripped of his citizenship and threatened with deportation, presidential sponsor and embattled businessman Yuri Borisov has initiated a legal battle to remain in Lithuania.
Borisov's application for a permanent residence permit using his Russian passport was rejected by the migration department on Jan. 12, leaving him with only seven days either to file an appeal or leave the country as an illegal alien.
"Three actions have been taken in the case of Yuri Borisov," migration department director Almantas Gavenas explained to The Baltic Times.
"First, based on information received from the state security department implicating him as a potential threat to national security, the decision was taken not to grant him a residence permit. Second, his declaration of residence in Vilnius was revoked, as he possesses no residence permit," he said.
The migration department's final decision was to consider a suggestion from the state security department to include Borisov on a list of personae non gratae, which would bar him from entering the country.
"I cannot comment on the status of this request," said Gavenas, who alone has the authority to add individuals to the list.
Borisov's voice was recorded during telephone conversations with one of President Rolandas Paksas' top advisors. During one of the taped exchanges he threatened the president in language that shocked both public officials and Lithuanian citizens and revealed the high degree of influence outsiders yield on the current presidential administration.
Borisov's status as a Lithuanian citizen, which was granted by a special presidential commission in April 2003, was found to be unconstitutional at the end of December, and his Lithuanian passport was destroyed in early January.
Upon official receipt of the Migration Department's decision, Borisov's legal team immediately began preparing a case for appeal to the Vilnius District Administrational Court.
"There are clear legal reasons why he should be allowed to stay in the country," said Adomas Liutvinskas, one of Borisov's chief lawyers.
According to Liutvinskas, the fact that Borisov would be forced to leave his family in Lithuania will be used as one of the primary arguments for appeal.
"We will use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children and other instruments of international law," Liutvinskas told The Baltic Times by telephone as he was working on the brief.
In the case that the Vilnius District court rejects the appeal, Liutvinskas vowed to exercise Borisov's final legal avenue by applying to the Chief Administrational Court, a process that would most likely take several months.
"The judges [in both courts] are required to hear the case, and they usually take their time because of their high work load," said Liutvinskas.
Because by law the authorities are not allowed to execute the Migration Department's decision until all appeals have been settled, Borisov will most likely not be deported in the near future, if at all, the lawyer said.
In better news for the flamboyant entrepreneur, the government on Jan. 12 unfroze AviaBaltika's bank accounts, which had been locked under order of prosecutors on Dec. 2.
Prosecutors claimed that because evidence of illegal deals between AviaBaltika, where Borisov is CEO, and buyers of helicopter parts in Sudan, a country accused of sponsoring terrorism, had not been discovered, the measure was no longer necessary.
With the Lithuanian government intervening in practically every aspect of Borisov's professional and private life, officials in Moscow declared their intention to observe the investigations and legal proceedings with special interest.
"We will watch the situation closely. So far nothing has happened that would require us to take any action. We will wait until the situation becomes clear," said Mikhail Kalugin, press secretary for the Russian Embassy in Vilnius.
As a Russian national in a foreign country of which he is not a citizen, Borisov is entitled by international law to apply for support from the Russian Embassy.
"So far we have not received any request from Borisov for any kind of help," said Kalugin.
Yet with lawmakers and bureaucrats alike seemingly intent on permanently expelling Borisov from the country, many believe that his days in Lithuania are numbered.
"The process of deportation is an entirely civilized one. In the case that he is deported, the police or other law enforcement officials will escort him to the border in a dignified manner," said Gavenas, who explained that the millionaire could even be entitled to government compensation for his one-way ticket out of Lithuania.