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Chasing Oligarchs: Roman Abramovich Allegedly Used Lithuanian Citizenship Of His Children To Escape Sanctions!

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Lithuania is on the brink of a legislative overhaul following a startling revelation involving Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his children’s use of Lithuanian passports. The Baltic nation’s interior minister, Agnė Bilotaitė, announced plans to push for legal changes that would enable the revocation of citizenship from naturalized Lithuanians, posing a national security threat. Abramovich allegedly used his children’s Lithuanian citizenship to shield assets from international sanctions.

The investigative journalism partnership Cyprus Confidential, led by ICIJ and including OCCRP’s Lithuanian member center Siena, unearthed that Abramovich’s children, Anna and Arkadiy, hold Lithuanian passports. Just before the West sanctioned Abramovich over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he reportedly transferred a trust fund worth hundreds of millions into their names.

Responding to these revelations, Minister Bilotaitė, during an impromptu press conference, stated firmly that Lithuania’s citizenship “cannot serve as a cover for sanction evasion.” Yet, she acknowledged the legal roadblock in stripping the Abramovich siblings of their citizenship under the current laws, which do not allow for revocation of citizenship obtained by origin.

Anna Abramovich and Arkadiy Abramovich were legally entitled to Lithuanian citizenship through their father’s Lithuanian grandparents. Roman Abramovich himself does not hold a Lithuanian passport. The number of Abramovich’s seven children who are Lithuanian citizens remains unclear, with Gudzinskaitė citing their right to privacy as non-public figures.

Minister Bilotaitė declared her intention to propose legislation changes to widen the grounds for citizenship revocation in cases posing a national security threat. Lithuania’s Prime Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, has expressed her backing for such a legislative move. Speaking on national radio, she voiced support for resolving the issue, even if it requires a change in legislation.

The controversy surrounding the Abramovich family has also spilled into Lithuania’s political arena. President Gitanas Nausėda, eyeing a second term in the 2024 elections, weighed in on the debate. While confirming that the Abramovich siblings’ citizenship was granted under valid laws, he underscored the importance of verifying the correct application of these laws. However, Nausėda expressed reservations about the proposed legal change, cautioning that it seemed to target specific individuals.

This unfolding drama in Lithuania highlights the complex interplay between citizenship rights, national security, and international diplomacy, especially in cases involving high-profile figures like Roman Abramovich. As Lithuania grapples with this legal and ethical quandary, the outcome could set significant precedents in the global discourse on citizenship and national security.

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