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  1. Investigative journalism in e-State Estonia Tarmo Vahter Weekly newspaper Eesti Ekspress

  2. Where to find the information?

  3. The Estonian Way • Estonia has since 2001 the Freedom of Information Law (Avaliku Teabe Seadus). • It has really changed the Estonian journalism. • I will tell you about 3 different cases, where I have found interesting information from the Internet.

  4. 1) Documents registers • Every government office in Estonia must publish the register of correspondence on its website. • You will see who has sent the letters for the office and what the topic was. • If you want to read the original letter, you have to send a FOIA request. • In 5 days time the government office must send you the copy of the letter.

  5. The register of correspondence of the Ministry of Justice •

  6. In 2006 I found an interesting letter about Congoin this register •

  7. I made a FOIA request and got the original document.

  8. CLAIM:Ex-prime minister Tiit Vähi is doing illegal mineral business in Congo!?

  9. Story in Eesti Ekspress

  10. 2) Central commercial register and land register • • Everybody can use the Estonia´s central commercial register and land register. • It is not free of charge – you have to pay about 50 cents–1 euro for each search. • You can do good stories, if you use both of the databases.

  11. In 2008 I just accidentally noticed that the private company of politician Heiki Kranich was registered at the address Tuvi 12/3.

  12. It is a top apartment house in the city centre of Tallinn.

  13. Let´s check the land register! •

  14. ...the results

  15. What did I find? • The land register showed that it was a big 160 m2 apartment. • The owner of the apartment was not Heiki Kranich, but an unknown company Luksi Maja. • Back to the commercial register!

  16. ...and the results were:

  17. What did I find now? • One of the owners of the company Luksi Maja was Koit Uus - a very rich businessman. • Uus had recently made a big land deal with the ministry of environment. • Guess who was the minister of environment back then?

  18. Heiki Kranich, who is now living in his luxury apartment.

  19. Story in Eesti Ekspress

  20. 3) Archival Information System • • Database of National Archives of Estonia. • It enables everyone to get information about a record on the Internet. • There are more than 5 million records. • You can not see the documents themselves, you have to go to the archive to read them.

  21. In 2006 I got a tip that some political parties have handed their documents to the National Archives. • I made a search with the name Isamaa (Pro Patria Union) – it´s the most important conservative party in Estonia.

  22. Bingo!

  23. A lot of documents... What´s this? Bookkeeping?

  24. Unbelievable! • They have handed every financial document from the year 1993 to the National Archives. • Nobody had read them before. • There where even original documents of the bank transfers.

  25. When Pro Patria´s leader Mart Laar was the prime minister of Estonia, his party was secretly collecting money from the state-owned enterprises.

  26. My Story in Eesti Ekspress

  27. Summary • It´s possible to find very interesting things from the Estonian databases. • You can make good stories very cheaply • You just have to now where to look. • And it´s very important to be patient 