Russian billionaire with Latvian citizenship stripped of state award

Take note – story published 1 year ago

At an extraordinary meeting on March 1, the Chapter of Orders, which is responsible for administering Latvia's system of state awards, decided to deprive the Russian billionaire and Latvian citizen Pyotr Aven of the Order of the Three Stars.

Chancellor of the Order Sarmīte Ēlerte said:

"The Order of the Three Stars - the highest state award - is awarded for special merits for the benefit of Latvia. Latvia's national interests are peace and security in Europe. Russia's war against Ukraine is a violation of international law.

"Pyotr Aven has not distanced himself from the war caused by the Putin regime. This means support for Russian aggression and is incompatible with the highest Latvian state award and the status of an awarded person, it cannot be offset by the previous merits of the person."

The decision of the Chapter of Orders has been made in accordance with Section 48, Paragraph one, Clause 2 of the State Awards Law, which states that the Chapter of Orders shall take a decision to withdraw a state award if a person has committed a shameful offense compatible with the status of an awarded person.

As reported by international media, Aven is now also on the list of oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union. He has expressed an intention to appeal this decision.

The "previous merits" of Aven and the manner in which he acquired Latvian and consequently EU citizenship had already been called into question by LTV's De facto investigative news show last year. Aven claimed Latvian citizenship in 2015 under a rule that allows such claims to be made by people who had ancestors living on Latvian territory between 1881 and 1940, but it also requires a demonstration of basic language proficiency.

While an investigation by anti-graft police failed to confirm that any bribes had been paid, numerous questions remained unanswered about how the language tests were carried out and how Aven gained a minimum pass mark despite disagreement even among the examiners. He gained Latvian citizenship in 2016. The investigation started in 2019 and came to an end in 2021.

According to Forbes magazine, the co-owner of Alfa-Bank has a fortune of more than $5 billion. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Latvia and in 2015 received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.

Prior to his business career he was Minister of Foreign Economic Relations for the Russian Federation and served as Russia’s representative to the G7.





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