'National Bolshevik' Beness Aijo stripped of Latvian citizenship

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The Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office (PMLP) has decided to withdraw 'National Bolshevik' Beness Aijo's Latvian citizenship, LETA reported on February 6.  In a separate case, the legitimacy of Russian billionaire Pyotr Aven's Latvian citizenship is also being examined by one of Latvia's security services.

The Ministry of Interior confirmed to LETA that the decision to revoke Aijo's citizenship was taken because Aijo accepted Russian citizenship without renouncing Latvian citizenship.

Aijo has been staying in Russia for several years, but has been wanted in Latvia announced since February 2015. Aijo is accused of publicly calling for the violent overthrow of Latvian state power. Aijo had to face trial, but he fled from Latvia to the self-proclaimed republic of the people of Luhansk. He later moved to Russia.

On February 19, 2015, a change in the Criminal Law prohibiting illegal participation in armed conflict abroad entered into force. In view of the above, the State Security Service (VDD) initiated new criminal proceedings against Aijo and in this case he was also declared a wanted individual. In 2019, Aijo was detained in the village of Yarenska, Russia, where he was found supporting activists who opposed the construction of a landfill. However, Russia refused to extradite Aijo to the Latvian authorities and granted him asylum.

In May 2021, he was sentenced in absentia to two years and six months in prison.

Aijo had once been known as a member of the neo-fascist National People's Party in Latvia, then joined the so-called Communist Party of the Donetsk People's Republic.

Latvian security authorities are also assessing whether there are grounds for the withdrawal of citizenship for Russian billionaire Pyotr Aven, the Ministry of Interior told LETA.

The assessment has been ongoing for some time and the opinion of the security services is currently awaited.

Last April, the Saeima adopted amendments to the Citizenship Law regarding the withdrawal of Latvian citizenship to persons who have provided any support to states and persons who have carried out activities that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of democratic states. Aven is currently on the EU sanctions list and has links to the Kremlin.

Aven acquired Latvian citizenship in 2016 and was awarded the Order of the Three Stars in 2012. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it was decided to withdraw the Order. Soon afterwards, the Senate of the University of Latvia decided to withdraw an honorary doctorate received by Aven.


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