News / Europe

Putin Critic and Chess Champion Kasparov Seeks Latvian Citizenship

FILE - Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov.
FILE - Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov.
Reuters
Former world chess champion turned Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov has asked Latvian politicians to grant him citizenship to help him pursue his political activities in Russia.
 
In a letter seen by Reuters, Kasparov, 50, said Latvian citizenship would give him the security to work “in Russia and in other countries across the world where civil rights are denied and democratic norms are trampled on”.
 
Kasparov, a veteran opposition leader in Russia and a well-known critic of President Vladimir Putin, has in recent years spent much of his time abroad. He said the mother of his son, Vadim, was a Latvian citizen and he had won an important chess victory in the former Soviet state when he was 14-years-old.
 
“Every Latvian has the right to express his opinion freely, participate in the political process and not be afraid of unlawful persecution,” Kasparov wrote of the Baltic state.
 
In the letter, Kasparov said he wanted to retain his Russian citizenship as well.
 
Latvian citizenship can be granted by parliamentary vote to a person who has done something exceptional for the country, but some politicians were lukewarm to the idea of allotting such status to Kasparov.
 
His appeal comes amid tension between the Baltic states and Moscow after Russia last month suspended imports of dairy products from Lithuania, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, while Latvia is hosting a major NATO military exercise together with Poland. Russia cited quality concerns for its suspension of Lithuanian dairy imports.
 
Kasparov's letter, written in Latvian, was addressed to all parties and independent members of parliament except for the Harmony Center party, said Andrejs Klementjevs, a member of parliament for the party.
 
The Harmony Center party signed a cooperation agreement in 2009 with the United Russia party founded by Putin.
 
This a very political issue, because formally there is no real merit in terms of having done something for the good of Latvia,” said Dzintars Zakis, leader in parliament for Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis' Unity Party.
 
“I would be very careful with it,” he added.
 
Edmunds Demiters of the Reform Party, the third biggest party in the Latvian parliament, also said it remained unclear what exceptional services Kasparov had rendered Latvia to make him eligible for citizenship.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid