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Monday 16.07.2018 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere

Large publicity promised for reaserch on Russian NGOs’ impact

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe research on pro-Russian non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) activities in the Baltic States is topical for all three Baltic States – after working on it for only about three weeks, we see the first signals that the topic is important and the findings will create a large publicity, Inga Springe, director of the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism (BCIJ), told the news portal BNN.

She indicates that Russia’s NGO informal power and influence in Latvia and other Baltic States is being researched, also looking at NGOs receiving funds from Russia. Researchers are convinced there are grounds for such research – there are already problems discovered and conclusions made. However, Springe refrained from going into details. She only noted that irregularities have been found in the Latvian and Lithuanian legislation, which the Russian NGOs are already using in their favour.

There is great potential, however, we will research this matter for another three months and therefore I cannot reveal anything more. I would like to emphasize that this research is not the only one, although when we first started it, there were fears of being reproached for focusing on Russian topics, Springe says.

The U.S. – Baltic Foundation (U.S. – BF) has donated 10 000 dollars to the newly-established Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism (BCIJ) in Latvia. During an official presentation, the news was announced by Ints Silins, board member of U.S. – BF, to Inga Springe, director of BIJC.

The donation is one of the first capital of BCIJ and will be used to finance two ongoing international projects – research of offshore businesses in the Baltic region and the analysis of pro-Russian non-governmental organizations’ activities in the Baltic States.

The U.S. – Baltic Foundation is pleased to support the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism, as it will promote transparency and inform the population, implementing effective democracy. We are especially pleased that the Centre will follow the developments in Estonia and Lithuania, says Maria Kivisild Ogrydziak, head of the U.S. – BF, explaining the reasons for donation.

The BCIJ is situated at the University of Latvia’s Department of Communications Studies. Journalists from all Baltic States have participated in its board. The Centre’s objective is to distribute its research to the widest-possible audience in the Eastern European region.

During the global economic crisis, media transparency in Latvia and Lithuania has been thoroughly squeezed, becoming particularly fragile due to the influence exerted by political forces lobbying business interests. Therefore, this is a right moment for the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism to start its activities, Inga Springe noted when receiving the donation.

While Kristine Rizga, co-founder and board member of BCIJ, considers that the Centre’s board sincerely welcomes the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. – BF, as it will enable the Baltic States to introduce a new model for non-commercial journalism. «We hope that this model will help improve preconditions for intense and sustained international cooperation, creating superb investigative journalism. The U.S. practice has already shown that fundamentally new models in non-commercial journalism promote cooperation between media professionals, leading to the birth of innovative journalism».

The U.S.– BF has been accumulating the donation of 10 000 dollars, granted to the BCIJ, since 2004 when Jaak Treiman, board member of the Foundation, proposed to establish an investigative journalism award in the Baltic States.

Treiman explains that «upon developing this project, we assumed that investigative journalism is not a cure for all diseases of the society. However, it can help, especially in cases where corruption in state institutions and business environment has to be disclosed. We believe that this issue is very topical in the Baltic States, especially because during the Soviet Union journalists could not ask unpleasant questions. Journalists were simply the mouthpiece of dominant power. Sometimes there is a feeling that the situation has stayed the same nowadays as well.»

Despite several donors, the U.S.– BF failed to raise enough funds to implement the idea of creating an investigative journalism award. Therefore, the collected money was waiting for a suitable investigative journalism project to support.

The BCIJ is a Latvian-based non-profit organization. Its key aim is to develop in-depth investigative journalism projects for the long term.

It is planned that on average 3-4 months will be devoted for one research. The BCIJ is to investigate such important social topics as corruption, organized crime, business, health industry and human rights. The Centre aims to achieve positive changes in the Latvian society, promoting transparency and development of necessary reforms. The BCIJ is also set to launch its official website in November 2011, but the first international project will come to fruition in early 2012.

The news agency BBN also sent a letter to Alexander Veshnyakov, the Russian Ambassador to Latvia, with a request to comment on the mentioned research. The Embassy promised to reply as soon as Veshnyakov has acquired more information on this matter.

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  1. Cam says:

    Where can I find this research ? Thanks.

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