Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has released biathlete Lidia Zhurauskaite from Russian citizenship at her own request. She wants to compete for the EU country Lithuania.
The 23-year-old received Lithuanian citizenship because she had ancestors from the country, Russian media reported. The prerequisite was a break with Russia, it said.
According to Putin’s decree published by the Kremlin, Zhurauskaite, who was born in Murmansk on April 9, 1999, has her application to withdraw her Russian citizenship.
For years, there have been discussions among Russian athletes about whether they compete for other countries because they complain about international disadvantages because of their nationality.
In the past, for example, they were only allowed to start under a neutral flag at the Olympic Games due to sanctions in the course of state doping. Now they are no longer allowed to participate in international competitions because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
“I am very grateful to Lithuania”
“My main goal is the Olympic Games in Italy,” the athlete said in October with a view to 2026 – even before the war against Ukraine. At the time, she had explained that she would not be able to change her citizenship in time for the Winter Games in Beijing in February. According to them, she joined the Lithuanian team last summer. Association and coach would have done everything for their well-being. “I am very grateful to Lithuania.”
In April, Kremlin chief Putin criticized the exclusion of numerous athletes from competitions and sports associations. “The exclusion of the athletes from Russia and Belarus has not only violated the basic principles of the sport, but also openly and cynically violates the basic rights that the United Nations enshrined in its 1948 Human Rights Charter,” he said. The ban first hit participants in the Paralympic Games in Beijing.