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Lithuania Strips Russian-Born Ballerina of Citizenship

March 8, 2024 (EIRNS)—Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda signed a decree on March 8 revoking the citizenship of ballerina Ilze Liepa, over her recent media statements that have allegedly threatened the security of the EU/NATO member, by expressing solidarity with Russia.

The Moscow-born Liepa, 60, was granted Lithuanian citizenship in 2000 in recognition for years of performing at the Bolshoi Theater with Lithuanian ballet dancer Petras Skirmantas.

Nauseda’s aide Ridas Jasiulionis confirmed the presidential decision to the Delfi outlet on March 8, saying that her citizenship had been revoked on grounds of national security. Reacting to the decision, Liepa told RT that she has given a lot to Lithuania and had many relatives, friends and acquaintances there. “But the time comes when you need to make a moral choice. And I confirm that I stand with my country and with my President. Because that world—which is now against us—and I are not on the same path. Their values are not mine.”

Lithuanian authorities started proceedings against Liepa last November, after she condemned the Baltic states’ destruction of Soviet World War II monuments and used the term “special military operation” to describe the Ukraine conflict.

Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite had accused Liepa’s statements as threatening the national security of Lithuania, while Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said that people who were not granted citizenship by birthright had no right to disagree with official state policy.

Lithuanian laws allow the government to revoke the citizenship of people like Liepa if they publicly support a government that poses a threat not just to the Baltic state, but also the EU or any of its other members, or “the security interests of their allies.”

Last September, Vilnius revoked the citizenship of ice dancer Margarita Drobiazko, because she and her husband Povilas Vanagas took part in a project organized by Tatyana Navka, wife of the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.