Ancestral ties: Kaliningrad nepotism as a map

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Russia

Organisation: RUGRAD.EU

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 7 Jul 2019

Credit: Roman Romanovskii

Project description:

This is how regional politicians, businesspersons, deputies, officials, security apparatus and judges originate “influential clans”.

RUGRAD.EU, a Kaliningrad business portal, and Dvornik, a newspaper, under the auspices of Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and Transparency International Russia https://transparency.org.ru present “Ancestral ties” project. We have drawn up an interactive map of business, ancestral and public ties of Kaliningrad politicians, businessmen, deputies, public and municipal officers, security apparatus and judges who set up “influential clans” in the Kaliningrad region. The map helps to explain why and how certain regional processes come about.

Impact reached:

Law enforcement agencies and decision-making officials, as well as the public, have learned about corrupt connections of public officials that no one knew about before. Kinship, social and business ties create a large conflict of interest in the regional government system. This leads to unfair decisions that are made to the detriment of the public interest. After the publication of the project, many corruption links were destroyed – officials left their posts and now our project needs a serious update.

Techniques/technologies used:

We used a complex visual design, we had to draw every link between people and each other.

In addition, we had to use various investigative techniques and work with a large body of data to establish kinship and other relationships between people.

We combined work with public registries and databases and deep Internet search, analysis of user comments in the media and social networks that reported kinship and other relationships between politicians. We worked with a large array of data-we analyzed anti-corruption declarations of officials and deputies in order to identify relatives. We compiled lists of officials by authorities that are not public, by secondary sources, and combined them with registers and databases.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The most difficult part of the project was interacting with designers and programmers who visualized the data. We had to come up with an optimal visual solution:
– to build data in the right logic, show relationships and trends

– so that the user can easily use our data

– to give the user an idea of the current situation based on our data

The jury should know that we have been working on this project for 3 years. We drew every link of every person. During this time, we had to completely redo our project once – in the Kaliningrad region, most of the heads of authorities were replaced and our data became irrelevant.

What can others learn from this project?

It seems to me that other participants could learn how to interact with programmers, designers, and other technical staff. People who are engaged in the content part should think like people who will technically implement their ideas. Technical staff should also think like people who are engaged in the production of content

Project links: