Isabella Tobias denied Lithuanian citizenship ...

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by kosjenka, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. kosjenka

    kosjenka Well-Known Member

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  2. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller President of Dick Button Appreciation Club

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    I hope that the Tobias & Copely families can recover the money spent on this sham. I bet they've spent a pretty penny. Sad.
  3. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    Dunno, Tobias got a much better, experienced partner than most dancers with her credentials would get otherwise. And they had some good international results. It's still unfortunate they'll miss out on Sochi, but I'd hardly call it a sham.
  4. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller President of Dick Button Appreciation Club

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    By 'sham' I mean the promise of long-term hopes to be an Olympian, which, in the end, is the goal of such cross-cultural elite skating ventures. A sham usually involves the outlay of a hefty amoung of CA$H for a certain expected result.

    I agree with you that the good international (non-Olympics) results are nothing to sneeze at but, still, most (not all) of these US skaters and their families have their eyes firmly on the big "O-Prize."
  5. SamuraiK

    SamuraiK Well-Known Member

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    Same story as Copely.. Well Tobias should've known what she was getting into. HOpefully they stick together..
  6. Stephanie

    Stephanie Well-Known Member

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    But why would the Tobiases (or anyone) have expected the decision to be different than it was for Copely?
  7. joeperryfan

    joeperryfan Well-Known Member

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    It's not that I advocate the practice, but wasn't it more common a few years ago for athletes to get married for citizenship? IIRC Navka and Morozov were briefly married for this reason.
  8. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    I can't speak for Tobias or any other skater. But it seems to me that opportunities to compete at ISU championships and Grand Prix events, but not necessarily Olympics, might be more valuable than an Olympic-eligible (by citizenship) partnership that would be lucky to get even senior B assignments because of a deep field in the US (or Canada or Russia or wherever) and would have little hope of ever making it to Worlds or Euros/4Cs.
  9. haribobo

    haribobo Well-Known Member

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    That's a great question Stephanie- and I thought the same thing when I was reading the article. If Tobias wanted to have a prayer of this working out, they should have spent a decent portion of the year training in Lithuania with some no-name coach. If they've made it clear you have to actually be integrating into society to gain citizenship, then training with a Russian guy in Michigan isn't going to help you much. 9th at Euros and a GP bronze medal might be seen as extraordinary achievements if they were living and training in Lithuania this whole time, who knows. That does suck though. Its too late now, but I wonder what place they be at in the US? Somewhere in the 3-5 range I'd imagine.
  10. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

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    The decision is pretty clear... she applied for citizenship as someone who had "special merit", and the ruling is that this has to have been demonstrated prior to granting of citizenship, not as a premise for future success (they will represent Lithuania ably at the Olympics). They have some accomplishments in figure skating - a top 10 at Euros, a Skate America bronze I think - but apparently that is not considered enough to be granted citizenship. That's not unreasonable. If they ever make it to a medal at Euros/Worlds for Lithuania, perhaps she could re-apply.

    Presumably she can also apply to be naturalized the regular way (without the exception), but then according to wiki she faces a residency and language requirement.
  11. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    They certainly didn't get married so one of them could get Lithuanian citizenship. :shuffle:

    It might have helped Morozov get Belarusian citizenship, though. Belarus and Lithuania are different countries, with different citizenship laws.
  12. bmcg

    bmcg Well-Known Member

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    I don't think joeperryfan is not aware that Belarus and Lithuania are different countries. Seems pretty clear his point was about getting married for citizenship ;)
  13. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller President of Dick Button Appreciation Club

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    Maybe the Tobiases have a different group of immigration lawyers than the Copely family and, thus, hoped for better result? Different lawyers have different 'relations' with the decision makers.

    "Making things work" in such situations is iffy. It "works" in some countries better than others. It seems that Lithuania and Azerbaijan (remember that?) aren't so accomodating.
  14. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

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    I think Azerbaijan was plenty accommodating... didn't Kristin Fraser get citizenship without having set foot in the country? I thought the issues recently with Azerbaijan were with the federation not submitting paperwork on time, not with the government not granting citizenship.
  15. kirkbiggestfan

    kirkbiggestfan Well-Known Member

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    Do zlobina and Sitnikov have AZE citizenship?
  16. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    This is sad for Isabella AND Deividas. The Lithuanian government is contradicting itself. Apparently, the Lithuanians view "special merits" as only competing in the Olympics, which they admitted by calling the Olympics a "future merit". How can a skater earn the future merit if they are not allowed to compete in it? It's also sad for Deividas that being in a country with so few prospects, he is guaranteed to never compete as an Olympic ice dancer.

    It's a shame that athletes have to rely on country boundaries so much to be able to compete. As we become a more "global world" this is becoming a huge issue. It would be nice if there was a way for mixed-citizenship teams to compete, like the Unified Team in 1992 Olympics. I also believe that in gymnastics team competition, the single athletes from smaller countries are grouped into teams.

    Perhaps the top 1-2 mixed skating teams from qualifying competitions could be allowed into the Olympics. I believe in the future that some accommodation will be made for the teams, similar to the "going pro" rules that were changed and you can now be an athlete with a job. It's a different world.

    I guess it is a gift in places like the U.S. and Canada, where you can obtain citizenship based on abilities. I think Lithuania is hurting itself by denying itself an Olympic ice dance team. The country would also benefit from the skater, not just the skater benefiting from the country.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  17. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    The way it works for gymnastics is that athletes who qualify as individuals are grouped together so they form their own "warm-up" group. Their scores only count individually and the mixed group doesn't get a placement that counts towards team events.
  18. TAHbKA

    TAHbKA Well-Known Member

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    If am not mistaken (and I could be) Copely had to give up the USA citizenship in order to obtain the Lithuanian and she had different goals. Or was it an `estonian' skater skating with Rand?
  19. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    I thought it was Mallory and Rand that had the dual citizenship issue.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/sports/olympics/28pairs.html?_r=0
  20. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    I think the point is that if they had achieved more than they have -- like winning a European Championship, for example -- Lithuania might be more disposed to granting her citizenship.

    There really isn't much reason to think that they would win an Olympic medal even if they were eligible to compete or that she would do anything else for Lithuania, like go to live there and coach young skaters. So why should Lithuania make an exception for her?

    Actually, just about anyone can obtain citizenship by living in the U.S., Canada, or Lithuania long enough and speaking the national language. I'm not sure about Canada, but the U.S. doesn't award citizenship based on special abilities. That's why athletes like Martina Navratilova, Peter Tchernyshev, and Tanith Belbin, had to wait at least five years after they settled in the U.S. to apply for citizenship. The U.S. does grant residency based on special abilities, but I suspect Lithuania does too. Isabella Tobias, however, isn't seeking to live in Lithuania.
  21. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    Yes. I found this pre-2010 Olympics post in the FSU Archives:
    Excerpt from the NY Times article re. Mallory: http://www.annarbor.com/sports/university-of-michigan-student-competes-for-estonias-olympic-team/
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  22. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    They have been known to speed up the naturalization process, like they did for Tanith Belbin, however and do away with the 5 year (or is it 6 now) requirement. Basically, you need to have a green card for at least 5 years before you could apply for citizenship.
  23. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

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    For the billionth time, Tanith's naturalization was not sped up. In fact, her process was longer because of 9/11. People who applied after her became citizens before her.
  24. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  25. BittyBug

    BittyBug Kiteless

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    Deleted because my memory is obviously lacking.

    But to the point of this thread, I'm glad Lithuania doesn't have its citizenship for sale. If Tobias can't even be bothered to live in the country and learn the language, then she doesn't deserve citizenship IMO.
    Lanna and (deleted member) like this.
  26. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    I definitely remember an act of congress to get her to the 2006 Olympics. From what I understand, the requirements changed in between the time she applied and the Olympic year (which is why other people got their citizenship faster), but some special dispensation was still required to ensure she got hers on time. Doesn't that still count as speeding things up? I assume there were other people without special abilities who applied at the same time as Tanith who had to wait even longer. I'm not saying this is wrong --far from it, actually. Just pointing out gov't does get involved in certain cases, even in the US.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  27. TanithandBenFan

    TanithandBenFan U.S. Ice Dance Junkie

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    She's been studying the language. She spoke it in a recent interview she and Deividas did when they visited Lithuania.
  28. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    Talking to the brick wall again, are we, Tesla? :saint:
  29. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    Spending money on skating does not give you the right to change national laws.

    Copely and Tobias were consenting adults who knew very well what they were getting into.

    Lithuanian citizenship laws are not secretive and there's also a case history you can look at (which shows Lithuania does not give citizenship to promising athletes just because they have decent results).
  30. Carolla5501

    Carolla5501 Well-Known Member

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    The legislation actually covered more then just her.

    Google is your friend

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/torino/figureskating/2005-12-31-belbin-citizen_x.htm
  31. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member

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  32. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

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    Maxim Zavozin also benefited from the Tanith legislation. I remember some posters at the time saying he was actually the only other person who did, but I'm not sure if I'm misremembering and/or if those posters were characterizing it correctly.

    I agree with you. Her citizenship was sped up - she received it earlier than she otherwise would have, because an amendment was added to a budget appropriation authorizing it. That's a fact with no positive or negative attached to it. The issue to me is whether it was fair that it was sped up, and there's plenty of different arguments: Yes, it was fair because she applied in 2000. Yes, it was fair because she was on track to receive it by 2006 had 9/11 not happened. Yes, it was fair because people who applied after her got it before her. Yes, it was fair because it was just correcting a quirk in the law and was written to apply to others similarly situated. No, it was not fair because others who did not have "extraordinary abilities" were not included. No, it was not fair because she's just an ice dancer and such an amendment should only be enacted for scientists. No, it was not fair because the reason she got it is because she had a big law firm and figure skating fans lobbying for her. Etc etc.
  33. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  34. UMBS Go Blue

    UMBS Go Blue KWEEN 2016! YES WE KWAN!

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    Tanith also lived and trained in the US full-time or pretty close to full-time and, as other posters have mentioned, ought to have gotten her citizenship anyway via normal processes, but was delayed because of red tape.

    The Tanith issue was covered here in '05-'06 ad nauseum - search the archives for it; one poster (hi! :40beers:) was personally involved - and helped spark the creation of this smiley --> :mitchell:

    Without knowing more about Tobias and her situation, it's still obvious she doesn't live and train full-time in Lithuania like Tanith did in the US.
    kwanfan1818 and (deleted member) like this.
  35. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    It's unusual for a country to grant citizenship to a non-resident; the Putin/Depardieu love dance is an exception. The typical path for citizenship starts with an application for permanent residency, and, as far as I know, Tobias never applied for residency status in Lithuania. Belbin was a long-time US resident, from her teens, and in Canada, Kaitlyn Weaver was a Canadian Permanent Resident. Canada grants PR status to athletes and people in the arts through the "Self-Employed" economic class, and the US has "Self Petition" for "Individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, (E11)." I've never seen the equivalent in documentation about Lithuanian citizenship. It is possible that if Tobias/Stagniunas trained in Lithuania, and Tobias was a resident of Lithuania, that the Lithuanian government might have ruled under different reasoning and expedited her citizenship request, had she met all but the length of residency qualifications; it might also have required her to renounce her US citizenship, since dual citizenship seems to be allowed only for people who left during Communist rule.

    The original legislation that Levin proposed would have allowed everyone in Belbin's residency class who applied before 2002 to expedite their citizenship, but the final version was so restrictive, it applied only athletes like Belbin, Zavozin, and maybe a speedskater? because it was the only way the legislation was going to be passed in time for her and Agosto to compete in Torino. It was short-sighted for the change in legislation that issued concurrent immigrant visa and green cards not to have reduced the waiting time for people who applied under the old rules, so that they were on par, and I think it was a shame that Levin's original amendment wasn't ratified. I don't see any problem in using a high profile case to publicize and push through legislation that ensures parity, and while the legislation technically expedited her citizenship, it granted her a timeline to which others of her class were entitled.

    Weaver's case was different: the legislature made an exception to the physical residency requirements for citizenship (which are very different than the residency requirements to maintain Permanent Residency) that everyone else who applies for citizenship must meet. Of course, Canada had every right to expedited it though the established process and did.
  36. apatinar

    apatinar New Member

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    Tobias' mother probably thought that with all that money they have, she could easily buy her daughter's citizenship.. Nope! Sorry! You can't have your way with everything!
  37. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    Not sure why it's only fair for scientists to receive expedited American citizenship, but not fair for figure skaters?

    Kaitlyn was barely a "resident" of Canada for three years, even though she lives and trains in Michigan, and she did NOT have to give up her American citizenship. She did not obtain a world medal before then, either, and was banking on the "future merits" of getting 2nd at nationals to become an Olympian. Is that fair?

    Those are some wild assumptions.
  38. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

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    It took Vanessa James about two years to get French citizenship after she paired up with Yannick Bonheur, though I do believe they trained in France in order to facilitate the naturalization process.

    It wasn't very hard for Allison Reed to get Georgian citizenship a few years ago... it'll be interesting to see if she can get Israeli citizenship as easily, if it looks like she and Rogov can qualify for Sochi. Israel does not require residency if you're Jewish, but I don't believe Reed has any Jewish heritage. And while some non-Jewish athletes have become Israeli citizens, it's usually footballers and basketball players who play in Israeli leagues, or people who marry Israeli citizens, not figure skaters who live in New Jersey.
  39. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

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    I was just throwing out arguments that could be made on either side. Tanith's citizenship took an act of congress to expedite. There must be people who would find it ridiculous that would be done on behalf of an Olympic ice dancer, believing that such a measure should only be introduced on behalf of someone like a scientist who would theoretically be more valuable to society as a whole, even though both are considered to have extraordinary abilities. I'm not saying I agree. I think ice dancing is very important! ;)
  40. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    Didn't Vanessa James have some French connections and possibly lived in France before as well?

    I think Papa Boria wouldn't have paired Reed and Rogov up if the citizenship couldn't be sorted. :p