State Security Service raids Rīga 'Moscow House' over potential sanctions breach

Latvia's State Security Service (VDD) said December 22 it had carried out "criminal procedural activities" at the 'Moscow House' in central Rīga which is owned by Moscow municipality in Russia.

The criminal procedural actions were carried out December 21 and 22 in connection with a process that started November 23 "in accordance with the possible violation of sanctions established by the European Union against Russia," the VDD said.

"During the investigation, it was established that the management of Moscow House probably continued to benefit materially from the premises of this house, the use of which was prohibited according to international sanctions," the VDD said, adding that it had also visited a private residence and launched criminal proceedings against one unnamed individual.

"In the course of the conducted searches, the VDD removed a large amount of data storage devices and documents," the VDD said.

Though the building called Moscow House at Riga Marijas Street 7 belongs to the Property Department of the City of Moscow, as previously reported by LSM, legislative moves are at an advanced stage to nationalise the property and potentially hand it over to Ukraine.

More than ten organizations and companies are registered at Marijas Street 7, including the "Russian Billiards Federation", "Russian Society in Latvia", a  representative office of Moscow City State Unitary Company "Moscow International Cooperation Center", and others.

"Moscow House" was opened in the capital of Latvia at the end of May 2004. In honor of this event, Moscow Days were held in Riga and the then mayor of the Russian capital Yuri Luzhkov visited Riga. The then Riga mayor Gundars Bojārs also took part.

Following Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Latvian Ministry of Justice decided to freeze the assets of the Moscow House, and the owners removed the signage as the public mood turned sharply against Russia. 

The State Security Service (VDD) is one of the three Latvian Security and Intelligence Services besides the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) and Defence Intelligence and Security Service (MIDD).

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