Our Investigations

Latvia's golden visas

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.

Latvia torn between money and fear of Russia

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.

Putin's middle class is fleeing to Latvia

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: How much for a "golden visa" in EU country?

Infograph shows collected information about "golden visas" in other EU countries.

An investor with an income of 64,000 euros per month and other fairy tales

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.

Who has a second base in Latvia?

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.

Corruption in focus for Baltic investigative group

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.

After prison, a will to change is not enough

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.

Beep, stop, lock: life with electronic tag

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.

Infographic: Locked Up

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.

Our investigations

Latvia's golden visas

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.

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Imprisoned in the Baltics

The Baltic countries has the largest prisoners population in the European Union. They have twice as much prisoners as an EU average. Society believes that locking them up serves them right and does not realize that the prison system with the violence and the Soviet-era traditions is a crime academy, not a place of reformation. 

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Health in Latvia

While Latvia is planning to introduce a more “just'' health care reform, which will leave thousands outside the health system, Re:Baltica's research shows that a more fair distribution of financing could improve public health already now. That's not happened for years because of opposition from a few doctors and a business lobby.

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The Other Side of Latvia's 'Success' Story

In January 2014 Latvian and U.S. students participated in a joint project at Riga's soup kitchens to try to understand for which groups in the Latvian capital the crisis remains far from over. These clips tell the stories of 31 Rigans. 

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Small Wages

Latvians are lazy and prefer to live off welfare benefits. To stay profitable, businesses must bring in workers from other countries. This is the rhetoric one frequently hears from Latvian politicians and businessmen. Re:Baltica undertook the task of clarifying why, given that the unemployment level is still high, businesses cannot find low-skilled workers. To understand the situation, Re:Baltica went out to work in a fish factory and a supermarket.

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Press Intimidation in the Baltic States

Lithuania’s Masked Ball, Media Freedom and Press Intimidation in the Baltic States.

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Baltic Drug Couriers

They travel abroad to earn easy money, but pay with something more valuable- their freedom. In some cases with their lives. Each year about 100 drug couriers from the Baltic states are arrested in foreign countries. This number doubled during the economic crisis. Why did they do this? And what do they think about, sitting in prisons thousands of kilometres from home?

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The Fall of Vladimir Antonov

In November 2011 two large Baltic banks collapsed - Latvijas Krājbanka and Snoras bank in Lithuania. It turned out that the owner of the banks, Russian millionaire Vladimir Antonov, gambled with depositor money to fuel his business ambitions and desire for a luxurious lifestyle. Re:Baltica investigated how Antonov pumped out the money from the banks, and why banking regulators didn’t notice what he was doing.

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Why can't the Baltics Cooperate?


Failed Liquid Gas Terminal Project

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Money from Russia

In 2007, President Vladimir Putin established the Russkiy Mir foundation. Designed to promote Russian culture abroad, the foundation prides itself on being open. But Re:Baltica found consistent lack of transparency in the foundation's activities in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Russkiy Mir doesn’t disclose all organizations it funds and what amounts were granted to which organizations. Who got this funding and how was it used? Explore this first cross-border investigation in the Baltics to find out.

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Dirty money

Defrauded millions from Ukraine and bloody drug cartel´s money from Mexico were laundered through Latvian banks. Money was transferred using offshore companies led by Latvians. Local directors didn't even know that they became millionaires on paper.

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Important

Latvian Court upholds Re:Baltica's defence in defamation suit at the appeal level

Re:Baltica presents their work to Swedish investigative journalists

Annual Dataharvest conference is almost here!

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