Without awards but with citizenship? An expert answers whether Drobiazko will keep his Lithuanian citizenship

Vanagas and Drobiazko

Vytautas Sinkevičius, a professor at Mykolas Romeris University and an expert in the Law, says there is no reason why Margarita Drobiazko, who danced at Russian-sponsored events, should lose her Lithuanian citizenship, Vilmntas Venckūnas writing at tv3.lt new portal.

According to Article 24 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, “Loss of Lithuanian Citizenship”, citizenship can be lost if one renounces the citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania; if one acquires the citizenship of another state, except for the cases provided for in this Law; on the grounds set out in the international treaties of the Republic of Lithuania; if a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania is serving in the service of another state without the permission of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania; or if one acquires the citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania by presenting false documents or by any other fraud.

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Andrius Tapinas raises the question that Margarita Drobiazko’s Lithuanian citizenship can be deprived in accordance with the part of the Law which states that citizenship is deprived when serving in the service of another state without permission of the Lithuanian government.

According to Mr Tapinas, this part could be applied because Margarita Drobiazko had participated in events financed by the Russian federal budget.

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Vytautas Sinkevičius, a legal expert, interviewed by the news portal tv3.lt, is sceptical about the possibility that Margarita Drobiazko will lose her Lithuanian citizenship.

“Let me give you an example: our famous opera soloist is asked to sing at the commemoration of February 16th. The Ministry of Culture pays him a fee. Has our opera soloist joined the civil service? No,” said Mr Sinkevičius.

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According to him, the term “civil service” in the Law always refers to the performance of certain administrative management functions.

“The concept of ‘civil service’ also includes service in the army of another country without the permission of the Lithuanian government, and so on,” he explained.

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“In this case, the argument that the Russian government paid [Margarita Drobiazko’s] fee is not an argument that confirms that a person has entered the civil service”, he added.

V. Sinkevičius believes that in the case of Ms Drobiazko, the situations provided for in the Law on Citizenship, when the citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania is lost, do not apply.

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“The Law does not provide for such ground if a person participates in an event organised by another state, although that state is waging war or aggression. The Law can be applied when there are grounds laid down in the Law. There is no legal basis for loss of citizenship,” Sinkevičius said.

According to the expert, there are discussions that the Law on Citizenship should be supplemented and the grounds for loss of citizenship should be extended, but even a supplemented law would not cover Mr Drobiazko’s case, as it could not be applied retroactively, but only in the future.

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“In this case, there remains the public condemnation,” Sinkevičius said.

The Seimas may consider the issue in the autumn

Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, stressed that Lithuania does not have the legal basis today to deprive Margarita Drobiazko of her citizenship in the Republic of Lithuania because of her actions.

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“[The legal basis] will have to be created. But I think it is also important in a broader context so that we don’t have to search for solutions constantly. People who take the aggressor’s side need to be clear about what they are risking. It should be clear both to the state what is done in such situations and to the people who choose the aggressor’s side”, said V. Čmilytė-Nielsen.

The Speaker of the Seimas has no doubt that initiatives to amend the Law on Citizenship will be discussed when the autumn session of Parliament begins.

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President strips skaters Drobiazko and Vanagas of state award

President Gitanas Nausėda on Wednesday removed ice dancers Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas from the list of state honour recipients because of their performance in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Council made the recommendation for State Awards, the President’s Office said.

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“Enough is enough! I have signed a decree removing Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas from the list of recipients of the Order of the 5th Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania, having demeaned the title of the recipient.

I have no doubt that the ice dancing couple were excellent athletes, but their services to the Lithuanian State, for which they were recognised as early as 2000, have been erased by the cynical act of attending a commercial event in Sochi at a time when innocent blood is being shed in the Ukrainian war. At best, this is political cowardice; at worst, it is a spit on the memory of the slaughtered babies, children, women and grandparents.

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I remind you that Margarita Drobiazko acquired citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania in 1993 by way of exception. In the current context, this looks like a pathetic farce. Does the Law not provide for a reversal – deprivation of citizenship by exception for tarnishing the name of Lithuania? Hence, we need to initiate a change in the legislation. Democracy must be able to defend itself. Otherwise, it is no longer a democracy,” Nausėda wrote on Facebook.

Drobiazko and Vanagas were awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Gediminas in 2000. According to the Law, state awards can be revoked if the recipients’ actions bring the honoured person’s name into disrepute.

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The presidency said earlier this week that it would consider stripping the skaters of their awards if they perform in a show organised by Russian ice dancer Tatyana Navka in Sochi.

T. Navka is the wife of Russian Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

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Ms Drobiazko and Mr Vanagas live in Russia.

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