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Lithuania investigating how Abramovich's children received citizenship, plans to amend law

by Elsa Court December 7, 2023 4:11 PM 2 min read
Russian billionaire and businessman Roman Abramovich attends meeting with representatives of business community and business associations at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 19, 2016. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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Lithuania is investigating the circumstances around how relatives of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich were given Lithuanian citizenship between 2011 and 2013, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry announced on Dec. 7.

The Siena Center for Investigative Journalism in Vilnius reported on Dec. 6 that two of Abramovich's children, Arkady and Anna, acquired, "and possibly still have" Lithuanian passports, citing information obtained from leaked documents dubbed "Cyprus Confidential."

The Kremlin-linked oligarch named them as beneficiaries in one of his funds, which may have helped Abramovich circumvent U.S., U.K., and EU sanctions.

Lithuania's Migration Department initially refused to comment on the case, citing data privacy rules and that the billionaire's children are not considered public figures, according to the Siena Center.

Abramovich's grandparents came from Lithuania, which gave his children the right to apply for Lithuanian citizenship according to the law at the time.

Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said on Dec. 7 that she has established a commission to investigate the case, while the Migration Department has been tasked with reviewing the list of individuals and entities under EU sanctions.

Data on those who have gained or lost Lithuanian citizenship have been publicly available since February 2023, after amendments were made to the country's law on citizenship.  

"Granting citizenship cannot be a secret, while the Lithuanian passport is a cover for circumventing sanctions or otherwise abusing it," Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said.

"In this geopolitically complex period, the protection of personal data cannot be higher than the interests of national security," Bilotaite said.  

While the law does not currently allow the government to revoke someone's citizenship, there are now plans to amend the law further, according to the Interior Ministry.  

The amendments would mean that dual nationals could have their Lithuanian citizenship removed if they are deemed to pose a national security threat or express support for a state that threatens Lithuania, EU member states, and allies.  

Lithuania has been a strong partner of Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion and is also among the leading donors to Ukraine in terms of gross domestic product shares.

As sanctions bite, Russia eyes Ukraine’s mineral resources to fund its invasion
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