Jaded Russia-Muscovites are getting settled in Riga

Home is where the milk tastes better.

Think about it Pavel Pereverzev, when I came from Riga to Moscow. Milk had a strange taste, it seemed like it soured. Had to open the second package. The same story.

“Then I realized that milk is all right. Just the taste was not the same as in Latvia”.

Pavel Pereverzev was one of those thousands of Russian, who received a residence permit in Latvia after 2010, the country began to issue them to foreigners who buy an apartment or invest in local businesses.

Under this programme was issued on 17 thousand residence permits. 12 thousand of them were received by citizens of Russia.

No one knows exactly how many of the permitted settled in Latvia. Riga and Jurmala is very popular with rich Russian, but many of them do not live here permanently.

However, in Riga formed a new minority liberal Muscovites. Riga, along with London, Berlin and new York, is constantly mentioned in the lists of those countries where leaving disillusioned with the current course of the country Russian.

Riga is different from the above cities that inherited from the disintegrated in 1991, the Soviet Union, in Latvia there are large Russian-speaking minority. Almost half of the inhabitants consider Russian to be their native language.

Pereverzev gets his new cafe in the Old town. He is the co-owner of the restaurant across the street. He also has a small construction firm.

“We were in the first wave, which lasted about two years,” he says.

Parents wanted to spend their retirement years, not in Moscow but somewhere else. Latvia to look after the place in Slovakia and Cyprus. On the third day of his first visit to Latvia Pereverzev realized that he wants to move here.

Pavel Pereverzev came to Latvia before, in 2012, intensified migration from Russia to EU countries. It was then that Vladimir Putin again became President, speech, leadership became more conservative and nationalist. The living space of civil society is narrowed. The rate of migration has increased in 2014, when Russia occupied the Crimea and the atmosphere became tense.

Pereverzev said that the reason for the move was not political. It was about the convenience and quality of life, and especially about safety. The main reason is that Russia lacks the legal community, he adds.

Left Russia in recent years are as Pereverzev, representatives of well-educated middle class. Knowing the language, they are not limited to accommodation only among the Russian-speaking population, as was the case with previous waves. In Riga in addition to knowledge of the language is of great importance that are coming to the current leadership of Russia more negatively than many of the local Russian-speaking.

Besides entrepreneurs, also moved to Riga a lot of journalists, freedom of activity in Russia was limited. The most famous of their work is news website “Medusa”, whose headquarters is in Riga.

Those who left were not refugees because many are still in Moscow.

Attraction Riga adds her location. An important factor is the acceptable level of prices and the widespread use of the Russian language.

The difference between new visitors and representatives of the local Russian-speaking minority, and noticed 26-year-old Andrey Rodionov, who moved to Riga from Ryazan in the spring of 2014.

“Here we have Russian-speaking friends who believe in Putin. We’re just not talking to them about politics.”

The first time Andrey Rodionov took part in the demonstrations of the opposition in Ryazan in 2010. During demonstrations, which took place after the Duma elections in December 2011, he was arrested by the police. Rodionova have had problems. After the occupation of Crimea parents, in the end, agreed that his son should go.

Place of study guaranteed a permit to stay. Adaptation was easy.

“I learned to speak Latvian in three months”.

He does not feel comfortable in Russia for a long time. Civil society is very weak and the people in the province are busy with his own Affairs.

In Latvia, on the contrary, people are fighting for freedom.

Currently, the community of so-called “new Latvians” is gradually increasing.

After the occupation of Crimea in 2014, the number of visitors began to grow, and the increase in the number of Russian citizens and allow them to stay only on the basis of acquisition of housing, the Latvian authorities began to consider the threat to national security.

Latvia raised the amount of investment in property, necessary to obtain a permit, up to 250 thousand euros. When at the end of 2014 has been the collapse of the ruble, the number of applications for a permit to stay from the middle class residents of Moscow have decreased.

For tougher conditions, especially sharply stands the nationalist party “national Alliance”, represented in the government.

“From the beginning we opposed the program. Decent countries do not sell their permits to stay. It’s like that to sell their kidneys,” says the member of Parliament Edvins Snore (Edvīns Šnore).

He plainly says that the increase in the number of Russian poses a threat to security, because Russia considers it possible to protect its citizens everywhere. Schnoor also doubts in the liberal mood of the visitors.

“There’s a difference between whether you are against Putin or do you approve the policy of the EU. It is not enough to condemn Putin. It is necessary to condemn his policies,” says Schnoor.

The real estate tried to lower border of the desired value. In the districts of Riga, where the building, built in art Nouveau style, was built and renovated many apartments for the Russian recipients of the “Golden visa”, but most built after 2013 of apartments remained unsold.

Since migration has already begun in 2012, a five-year term of the first permit issued expires at the end of this year.

Before the end of the year over the permission to stay and Pavel Pereverzev. Other family members permission already once extended.

Last year, the Parliament amended the law, and now the cost of renewal of the residence permit is five thousand euros.

Pereverzev took part in lobbying for and won. The law was changed so that it applies only to those who acquired property after 2014.

“That’s the good part of Latvia. You can really appeal to members of Parliament and get the result,” he says.

The middle class is leaving to Riga

According to Rosstat, emigration from Russia in this decade has increased significantly. Migration movement began to gain momentum in 2012 and grew in 2014.

The data is not accurate, because part of the citizens who received permission to stay in the EU, lives in Russia and uses the permit as multiple entry visa. Part of living in the EU has an apartment in Moscow.

Among these people there are rich and have acquired the property illegally. According to the Baltic center for investigative journalism Re:Baltica, a significant portion arrived in Latvia are the representatives of the wealthy middle class.