Proceedings initiated to strip ballet dancer Ilze Liepa of Lithuanian citizenship

  • 2023-11-13
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuania's Interior Ministry has tasked the country's Migration Department to initiate proceedings to strip Ilze Liepa, a Russian ballet dancer with Latvian roots, of her Lithuanian citizenship granted by way of exception.

"Ilze Liepa's public statements are seen as discrediting the state," the ministry said in a statement sent to BNS on Monday.

The Migration Department has also turned to the competent authorities, asking them to assess Liepa's recent statements about the war in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"On Friday, the Migration Department sent inquiries to the country's competent authorities, asking them to assess Ilze Liepa's public statements," the Migration Department told BNS on Monday.

If it is established that Liepa's actions pose a threat to national security, the Migration Department will propose to the Interior Ministry to ask the president to strip her of Lithuanian citizenship.

According to the Law on Citizenship, a person is deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship acquired by way of exception if their actions threaten the security interests of Lithuania, if they publicly express their support for a state that threatens the security interests of Lithuania or other European Union member states, or their allies.

In accordance with this provision, President Gitanas Nauseda has recently stripped Russian ice dancer Margarita Drobiazko of her Lithuanian citizenship after she and her Lithuanian husband Povilas Vanagas took part in projects organized by the wife of the Russian president's spokesman.

Regarding Liepa's citizenship, Nauseda is awaiting the relevant referral from the Interior Ministry and proposals of the Citizenship Commission.

"The president will make a decision as soon as he receives the conclusion of the Citizenship Commission," the presidential office told BNS.

The president also urged the Interior Ministry on Monday check 800 foreigners who have been granted Lithuanian citizenship by way of exception and are also citizens of other countries in terms of their compliance with the Law on Citizenship. The Interior Ministry said on Monday it had asked the State Security Department to do that.

In her recent interview with Russian media, Liepa, who holds both Lithuanian and Russian citizenship, condemned the Baltic states for their behavior and expressed her support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's started war in Ukraine, Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT reported on Sunday.

"I have no doubt about what our president says. And while one side says we are brainwashed by the Kremlin, it is everyone's choice. It seems to me that we now understand exactly what it is – a clash of our fundamental values. Unfortunately, Ukraine has become like a fungible currency, and I am very sorry about that," Liepa said.

"I am very ashamed of them (the Baltic states - BNS) and very sad (...). We understand that, unfortunately, the people are being held hostage by a small group of people. We are extremely lucky to have a leader like Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who serves his homeland, who is faithful to his duty," Liepa replied to a question about the destruction of Soviet monuments in the Baltic states and the restriction of Russian culture.

A daughter of the Soviet-era Latvian ballet dancer Maris Liepa, Ilze Liepa 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 dancing with Lithuanian ballet dancer Petras Skirmantas for more than a decade.