On Thursday, 27 April, a ceremony for presenting the Latvian passport to the world-renowned artist Mikhail Baryshnikov was held at the Saeima. Today, the Latvian parliament unanimously supported the granting of Latvian citizenship to Mikhail Baryshnikov for special merit in promoting Latvia.
‘Let the Latvian citizen passport that you are receiving today serve as a proof of the unbreakable ties you have with Latvia. It is also a reminder to you – this is your home where you will always belong. You are one of us. Your footprint is all over the Latvian art and culture, and the citizenship is a recognition of your input,’ underlined Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima.
Ilmārs Latkovskis, Chair of the Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee spoke of another kind of citizenship held by Mikhail Baryshnikov. ‘You once said: ‘I am a citizen of humanity’. Let me reassure you that there is no conflict with Latvian citizenship. Not because our laws allow double citizenship. It is the law of a higher power that we see here.’
‘The power of divine love, the power of our humanity. That is how a man integrates his own self, his national identity and all-encompassing love of mankind. Only a truly free and selfless individual can experience it. As an artist, you understand and fulfil this mission. I am delighted to know that you will continue this quest as a Latvian citizen,’ underlined Ilmārs Latkovskis.
When the Latvian government offered Mikhail Baryshnikov the citizenship, his heart skipped a beat, claimed the artist at the ceremony. ‘I thought it would be great to revisit my childhood places as someone who came from there, not as a stranger. To return to my mother’s grave, and pay homage to those whom I admired, adored and loved as a child. To feel the sand of Jūrmala or the cobblestones of Old Town with my feet.’
Mikhail Baryshnikov also stressed that Riga put him on his feet, both literally and figuratively. ‘I am grateful for that. Grateful to people who used to lived here and live here now. Everyone – my tutors, peers, all the exceptional opera and ballet artists, every performer who left imprints on my soul as a child.’
Inese Lībiņa-Egnere presented Mikhail Baryshnikov with the Latvian passport and also the Latvian flag.
Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the most iconic ballet dancers of our time, was born in 1948 in Riga. Having begun his career as a dancer in Kirov Ballet, Leningrad, he emigrated to the USA to continue his professional growth in 1974.
Saeima Press Service