VILNIUS – A person who lives by propaganda and says things that are not approved by Lithuanian society should not enjoy the benefits of a Lithuanian passport obtained as a privilege, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday.
Simonyte was commenting on the situation of Ilze Liepa, a Russian ballet dancer whose statements about the war in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin have prompted Lithuania's authorities to initiate proceedings to strip her of her Lithuanian citizenship.
"It seems to me that the question is whether a person who has our passport, acquired not by birth but for other reasons, can really (...) use our passport and benefit from certain privileges in the world – given that the passport of the Republic of Lithuania is considered a valuable, good passport in the international context – and at the same time express thoughts or take actions that probably don't correspond to not only to some official line of Lithuanian state institutions, (...) but also to the attitude of the whole society toward what is happening in Ukraine," she told reporters.
According to Simonyte, it is unfortunate when people involved in the arts, who are inherently expected to perceive things more deeply, fail to comprehend propaganda and live by it, "blaming the victim for what is being done to them in a criminal way."
The prime minister noted that although there are Lithuanian citizens who also think and say similar things, their situation is different because it is their only citizenship, acquired by birth rather than as a privilege.
"But in cases where citizenship is granted as a certain privilege, I believe that institutions authorized by law to consider such matters certainly have the right to do so," she added.
The public broadcaster LRT reported on Sunday that in an interview with Russian media, Liepa, who holds both Lithuanian and Russian passports, condemned the Baltic states for their behavior and expressed her support for Putin's war in Ukraine.
Following these statements, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry instructed the Migration Department to launch the procedure to revoke the ballet dancer's Lithuanian citizenship.
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.