Latvia’s Security Police says residency permits to Russians may threaten national security

During a Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee meeting on Wednesday, committee members analyzed a report from the Interior Ministry on the residency permit process and the results.

Security Police Chief Ints Ulmanis told committee members that the verification process of those applying for residency permits has become a burden to the Security Police, as its capacity, due to budget cuts, is not endless. In 2012, the Security Police carried out background checks on 2,770 persons, in 2013 – 4,196 persons, but so far this year – already 3,847 persons.

The results of the initial background checks do not show that these persons are a threat to national security. Over the past two years, only six persons have been denied residency permits by the Security Police. They point out that there were various reasons for denying these residency permits, including affiliation with organized crime, as well as activities of fraud or corruption.

The Security Police also monitors those who have been granted residency permits. Overall, there has only been one case in which a person’s residency permit has been revoked due to his or her activities in Latvia.

The Security Police have concluded that those who apply for residency permits are mostly persons who are well-off financially, who for one reason or another wish to obtain residency permits in Latvia. “Some persons like it here, that everything has been put into order and we are in Europe. Others need residency permits to travel within Europe, and basically do not reside here,” Ulmanis added.

“However, from the point of view of security services, we see that there has been an increase in the number of Russian residents granted residency permits, and this is something that must be seriously considered. Individually, these persons are not a risk to Latvia’s security, however, taking into account Russia’s rhetoric, that they are prepared to ‘defend’ their citizens abroad, this circumstance can increase risks to Latvia’s security in the future,” Ulmanis emphasized.

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