Constitutional Court gives itself more time to ready citizenship case

Latvia’s Constitutional Court has pushed back by two months its deadline for preparing a case that could have bearing on Latvians in the diaspora who wish to apply for dual citizenship.

The court had expected to finish its preparations by Dec. 23 in the case involving a Latvian family in Germany who sued the Latvian government after being told they would have to renounce their German citizenship before they could apply for Latvian passports.

According to Constitutional Court spokeswoman Līna Kovalevska, the deadline has been rescheduled to Feb. 23.

“The deadline for preparing a case may be extended if the case is complicated,” Kovalevska told Latvians Online in an e-mail. The maximum time allowed for preparing a case is five months from its date of initiation, she added.

At the urging of Latvia’s Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court on Sept. 23 initiated the case challenging parts of the citizenship law. Transitional rules in the law allowed exile Latvians and their descendants until July 1995 to register as Latvian citizens without giving up citizenship in their home countries. Since that date, dual citizenship has been outlawed.

The Supreme Court in an Aug. 25 opinion said the restrictions are unconstitutional. The court now is waiting for word from the Constitutional Court before it rules on the case of Baiba Lapiņa-Strunska and Viktors Strunskis and their daughter Rauna. The family sued the government after the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde, or PMLP) told them that they would have to give up their German citizenship before they could register as Latvian citizens. According to the Strunskis family, passports issued to them by Latvian legations in exile were evidence that they already were Latvian citizens, but the PMLP disagreed.

Approximately 30,000 ethnic Latvians abroad became dual citizens before the 1995 deadline. However, others have complained that they did not know about the cut-off date.

Once the Constitutional Court finishes its preparations, it would schedule a hearing date for the case. Under court rules, it is supposed to issue an opinion within 30 days of the hearing.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

3 thoughts on “Constitutional Court gives itself more time to ready citizenship case

  1. Figures. Let’s just hope that, come Feb. 23, they won’t push the term back again. A lot is riding on this… makes me wonder if a big reason why they’re pushing the date back is to avoid having to make a decision and thus avoid having to deal with the results thereof.

  2. People, can one imagine what would happen if everyone of us were allowed to be dual citizens of both were we live and Latvia? The impact it would have on voting in Latvia? It has taken the Russians so long to gain a good stronghold in Latvias government and now to allow us as people to vote would be very anti Moscow. One has to remember the amount of jobs Russians will have lost if we were allowed to barge in on ‘their domain’. Just to get things sreight, up to now for some funny reason if one does want to cast a vote in any of Latvias pollitics then one has to travel to Washington D.C. rather to main cities spread across the U.S.(Chicago,N.Y., S.F.) were we could have main voting booths. Probably too complicated or risky or whatever. If anybody has any answers let us know.

  3. Yes it’s about time the Latvian government recognised dual citizenship. As most westren countrys do. My mother who was born in Latvia and who lived there with her family up until the end of the second world war, and had to leave not by choice and became refugees. My Mother was one of thousands who found out only to late that they could reapply for Latvian dual citizenship. Even in her Australian passport it says she was born in Latvia. I hope common sence prevails and gives back what was taken away for those Latvians who were made refugees.

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