Canada court lets son of spies from Russia keep citizenship
TORONTO — Canada’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that he son of a Russian spy couple who lived clandestine lives in Canada and the United States can keep his Canadian citizenship.
Alexander Vavilov was born in Toronto, which would typically qualify him for Canadian citizenship. But authorities had ruled him ineligible because his parents were in a notorious Russian spy ring in North America that was broken up by the FBI in 2010.
The high court rejected that finding, meaning Vavilov can reside in the country where his parents once lived as deeply embedded spies who were the models for the TV show “The Americans.”
Vavilov’s lawyer Hadayt Nazami said his client plans to move back to Canada from Russia.
The Canadian government argued he wasn’t entitled to citizenship and appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the passport granted to him by a lower court. The top court upheld that ruling.
Vavilov’s supporters said a son shouldn’t pay for the sins of his parents, while critics contend his claim to be a Canadian by birth was based on a fraud since he and his parents lived under stolen identities as they collected intelligence.
Canada, like the U.S., grants citizenship to anyone born within its territory with limited exceptions, such as the children of diplomats.
The government argued that Vavilov’s parents were employees or representatives of a foreign government and thus ineligible. Vavilov’s lawyer argued that they were not official representatives and that all that matters is his client’s physical birthplace.