RIGA - Russian billionaire of Latvian descent Petr Aven says he feels "taken aback and humiliated" by Latvia's decision to strip him of its highest state award for "a silent support to Russian aggression" against Ukraine.
The billionaire who along with several other Russian oligarchs has been included in the European Union's sanctions list, says in a statement released by his charity foundation Generation that he is thankful to people all over the world who are taking action to stop bloodshed in Ukraine. Aven underlines that public demand for an immediate cessation of violence, as well as support and assistance to war refugees is an axiom of European humanism.
Aven also notes that several days ago he announced his resignation as chairman of Russia's Alfa-Bank. The sanctioned billionaire said he was currently working to get the sanctions lifted so he could focus on the development of art and cultural projects promoting international cooperation, including in Latvia.
"What is currently going on in Ukraine, is a devastating tragedy for both brother nations," Aven says in the open letter. He added that he would not comment on the decision of the Latvian Chapter of Orders to strip him of the order.
The Chapter of Orders at an extraordinary meeting has decided to rescind the Order of the Three Stars, which is the highest state award in Latvia, presented to Petr Aven who also holds Latvian citizenship.
"Order of the Three Stars is the highest state award in Latvia. It is awarded for special service to Latvia. Peace and security is one of the national prerogatives of Latvia. Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is a violation of international law and a crime against Ukrainian people. Petr Aven has made no official statements distancing himself from the war waged by Putin’s regime. This can be considered a silent support to Russian aggression, a behavior not supported by the principles underlying the highest state awards of Latvia or conduct of a recipient of the award. No prior achievements can outweigh that," said Sarmite Elerte, Chair of the Chapter of Orders.