Our Investigations

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. 

Prisons in Latvia and Estonia

The series "Imprisoned in the Baltics" were possible due to the support of Sigrid Rausing Trust and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Latvia. Authors of the project: Inga Springe (Latvia), Odita Krenberga (Latvia), Mantas Dubauskas (Lithuania) and Mikk Salu (Estonia).  

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.

Imprisoned

6AM. Six men are drinking moonshine at the shared table in one of the cells of the largest prison in Latvia. None of them cares about guards because often overnight there is just one for 400 prisoners.

Estonia’s media are healthiest in the Baltics

Among the Baltic countries Estonia’s media are the healthiest in terms of finances, trust of society, readership and press freedom, concludes the new Re:Baltica research about the state of the media sector in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Cardiologist to the Court

Andrejs Ērglis, one of Latvia’s most famous doctors, is from a well known medical family and combines professional talent with personal charm. In his own words, he has raised Latvian interventional heart surgery to a world level. But how can a poor country with one of Europe’s lowest healthcare budgets also be among the world leaders in expensive heart operations using stents, the microscopic structures used to repair damaged arteries? And why, even though it spends so much on such procedures, does Latvia not also lead in reducing the number of premature deaths, with heart disease still the country’s main killer?

Obesity

Adults are worried that teenagers in Latvia are getting fatter and unhealthier, but at the same time allow the sale of harmful foods in schools. Banning these harmful products from schools would deprive private firms of a significant source of profits.

Latvia’s Unhealthy Healthcare System

Latvian government is working on one of the biggest healthcare reforms since the country gained its independence. Healthcare Minister Circene says it will be fairer to tax payers, fight the grey economy and bring more money into the healthcare system. But doctors and the Ombudsman argue that the change will not make people healthier and leave 100,000 uninsured.

Why Do They Eat in Soup Kitchens?

Although the number of extremely poor people in Riga has fallen since the worst point of the crisis in 2009, there is still a large number of Rigans in need of social support from local government: 63,000 people, equivalent to 9% of the city's population. Part of that number goes every day to soup kitchens that are either fully- or partly-paid-for by the municipal authorities. The recipients of these hot meals are mainly single pensioners and families on minimal incomes, according to both the statistics and students' observations.

Our investigations

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. 

Read more »

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

Open lecture: The Baltic Media - Challenges, Finances and Audience During 2008-2014

Public lecture on press freedom: Lithuania’s Masked Ball

Is the case against 'Neo' a warning to Latvia’s whistleblowers?

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