Latvia torn between money and fear of Russia
After Russian president's flawed elections in 2012, annexation of Crimea and flaring up of Ukraine - Latvia's "golden visa" program experienced a flood of applications from the both countries. Now the country is torn between the wish to make money and fear of Russia. Re:Baltica examines 315 most expensive property deals during last year to find out who is running away from Putin's Russia.
To view the journal "Who has chosen Latvia as a second base" in an article form, click here - Second base in Latvia.
For almost a year Re:Baltica collected information from Latvia's business, land and property registers and analysed the 315 most expensive real estate deals in Latvia where foreigners were involved. The purpose was to get a full picture of the people who, during the turbulent times in Ukraine and a growing stand-off between the West and Russia, have opted for Latvia's ultra-cheap “golden visa” programme and find the origin of the money.
Vitaly Mansky, a Russian documentary director, knows exactly when he decided to establish a bolt hole outside of the Russian Federation. It was the spring of 2014, and Mansky was in Spain for a film festival, watching the news in his hotel room. An anchor at one of the Kremlin-controlled news stations reported that Russia’s parliament had allowed President Vladimir Putin to use the army to protect his compatriots in other countries. In other words, they had legalized the annexation of Crimea and provided support for pro-Russian combatants in Eastern Ukraine.
Infograph shows collected information about "golden visas" in other EU countries.
In the discussions about Latvia’s Golden Visa program the investors’ profiles have been exaggerated, and research has been paid for by the powerful real estate lobby. Its strong influence over parliament members is evident. Re:Baltica examines the most popular arguments of the debate.
For the investigation, the property deals were selected which value exceeded 250 000 EUR and which were done between the October 2013, when Maidan in Ukraine started, and September 2014, when the new conditions for Latvian golden visas were introduced.
This article about Re:Baltic was published by the magazine Scoop, in its winter 2014 issue. Scoop is a Swedish magazine for investigative journalism and is run by the organization for investigative reporters in Sweden.
Having received his release papers from the prison’s management, on an average day of the Baltic autumn Rimantas Muka (31) moved through the gates of Alytus prison in Lithuania. He bought a kebab and a soda at a nearby kiosk. He just stood there and ate, waiting. Muka thought that the autumn morning was wonderful.
It happens very quickly. I raise my foot on the chair, roll up my trousers and a prison official fixes black plastic-rubber band around my ankle. It looks like a large wristwatch. 30 seconds and done. I am now one of the 100 people who at this very moment are electronically tagged in Estonia.
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania has the largest prisoners population in the European Union. They have twice as much prisoners as an EU average, and 4 – 5 times more than in Netherlands. The average length of imprisonment is 5 – 10 years, while in EU it is 1 – 3. Half of Latvian prisoners re-offend within two years. See more in the infographic.