The chairman of Parliament's Anti-Corruption Committee, Andres Anvelt, has demanded a detailed explanation from IRL MPs Indrek Raudne and Siim Kabrits over their involvement in aiding hundreds of rich Russian businessmen to obtain Estonian residence permits.
The demand comes after an investigative piece by ETV's muckraking program "Pealtnägija" (Witness) revealed on November 30 that Raudne, Kabrits and Tallinn City Council member Nikolai Stelmach were behind a lucrative enterprise whereby the foreign businessmen would pay 3,500 to 4,000 euros for arranging the permits, which give the holders access to the Schengen zone.
"At first glance, from what I found out from the media, it seems that we're talking about a hypocritical and very ugly story," Anvelt told uudised.err.ee.
Though the scheme may have been proper from a legal point of view, it's not an activity that politicians should be engaged in, Anvelt said, noting that he would also be taking a close look at the two MPs' declarations of economic interests.
The three men involved jointly own a Tallinn apartment where an unlikely number of Russian and CIS citizens are registered as residing. Raudne himself said that there were probably over 100. The ETV report said that there were also 78 companies registered at the same address.
Raudne and Stelmach defended the activity, saying that it was aiding the Estonian economy by bringing in millions of euros in direct investments.
Under Estonian law, a non-EU resident can be eligible for a temporary residence permit for professing entrepreneurship if he or she invests 63,900 euros in an Estonian company.