On April 21, 2022, the Saiema (Latvian legislature) adopted amendments to the Law on Citizenship that had been proposed by the Ministry of Justice providing for the termination of Latvian citizenship for dual citizens who provide support for war and other crimes against democratic countries.
The Latvian new agency Delfi reported that the justification for introducing these amendments was the war started by the Russian Federation against Ukraine when it invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. According to a Bloomberg news report, the adoption of this amendment may have been in response to calls to revoke the Latvian citizenship granted to a Russian billionaire, Petr Aven, in 2016.
According to a press release issued by the Saiema, the amended law states that the basis for terminating citizenship would be providing “significant support to individuals, states, or other entities who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, or other crimes undermining territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of democratic states or their constitutional system.”
The law defines “significant support” as financial, material, technological, propaganda, or other assistance to the aggressor. The law applies to those who personally commit these crimes as well as to their supporters.
The national security authorities are responsible for establishing that these crimes have been committed and for informing the Ministry of Justice, which makes citizenship decisions. If a decision to revoke citizenship is made, the revocation remains in force during the appeal procedure initiated by the person affected. However, Latvian citizenship can be terminated only in cases where doing so will not make the individual a stateless person. Moreover, termination of a person’s Latvian citizenship does not affect the citizenship status of his or her family members. (Law on Citizenship art. 24.)As soon as the war in Ukraine started, article 24.1(2) of the Citizenship Law, which provides for the revocation of citizenship for Latvian nationals who offer their services to a foreign military, was amended to add Ukraine to the list of exempted countries whose military forces Latvian citizens can serve in without losing their citizenship.