Reporters say pre-election newspaper is a fake

The latest twist in a pre-election campaign that is increasingly characterized by a slew of fakes and frauds sees an election newspaper distributed to mailboxes.

That itself is not unusual - but what is unusual is that the paper in question purports to be the work of a respected group of investigative journalists when it is nothing of the kind.

The Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica, reported August 1 that the newspaper was delivered to letterboxes in the town of Jekabpils. It reproduced some recent work Re:Baltica has undertaken in a series identifying some of the least active members of the current Latvian parliament or Saeima, one of which identified Saskana (Harmony) party member of parliament Vitalijs Orlovs. It uses the same headline, some of the same text and even a similar design to the series reproduced on the Re:Baltica website.

However, the publication was not produced or approved by Re:Baltica at all, instead bearing the name "Re:Baltika" - an organization that does not appear to exist except as an effort at deceiving the public.

The real Re:Baltica series features politicians from various different parties whose performance in Saeima has been less than satisfactory. This takes one example out of the series and reproduces it out of context and without permission.

Re:Baltica was quick to distance itself from the leaflet in a statement and condemn what is a clear attempt to mislead the electorate:

"We did not create or publish such a newspaper... Someone used Re: Baltica's reputation and work to create material against this politician and give it more credibility. There are different theories. The goal could be Orlovs, the author - his political opponents. The goal could be Re: Baltica, undermining the reputation we have gained over the years... The goal may be bigger and more dangerous: confusing the electorate during the election period [so that] in the end people no longer know who to believe."

"Political struggle is a normal part of the election, but it must be fair and open," Re:Baltica said.

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