Former Alfa Bank executive could lose his EU citizenship

EU: According to the news agency Leta, the Riga government is considering whether to revoke Pyotr Aven's citizenship, a former executive of Alfa Bank. Latvia's Interior Ministry commented on the report but stated that no decision had been made as of yet.

After completing the naturalisation process and passing the language test, Aven became a citizen in 2016. His grandfather's ethnicity was Latvian, so he was eligible. An elite military unit that aided the Bolsheviks in seizing control and founding the Soviet Union, Janis Aven had served in the Latvian Rifles.

Leta claims that Riga is looking into whether Aven broke a law passed in April 2022 that permits Riga to strip dual nationals of their citizenship if it is determined that they supported "genocide, crimes against peace, and threats to the territorial integrity and constitutional order of democratic states."

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In response to a request for comment from Bloomberg, Interior Ministry spokesman Andrejs Vaivars stated that the investigation has been ongoing "for some time" and that the outcome is still pending.

Following the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, Aven was added to the EU sanctions list last year. He filed a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice along with two other sanctioned businessmen, calling the ruling "spurious and unfounded." To protect them from the effects of the sanctions, he also left Alfa Bank and LetterOne Group, a Luxembourg-based investment firm.

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There are 1.88 million people living in Latvia, and about 25,000 of them are ethnic Russians. They should be "isolated" unless they show loyalty, as Riga has suggested. The Latvian interior ministry suggested last month that the repatriation laws, which were put in place after the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991, be changed because too many Russians were abusing them to obtain citizenship in order to enter the EU.

Intermittent media reports claim that Russian residents in Latvia have been required to publicly condemn Moscow's "aggression" in Ukraine in order to enter the country.

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In "solidarity" with Estonia, a neighbour, last week, Latvia downgraded its ties with Russia and recalled its ambassador from Moscow. Marat Kasem, a Lithuanian and Latvian citizen and editor-in-chief of Sputnik, was arrested earlier in January by Riga authorities on suspicion of breaking Russian sanctions.

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