Disinfo: The Baltic states are persecuting the Russian media

Summary

In Latvia, criminal proceedings were initiated against some Russian-speaking journalists of Sputnik and Baltnews. They are accused of violating EU sanctions but it is obvious that they are persecuted for cooperation with the Russian news agency. It is a violation of the norms of a democratic society, restriction of press freedom and freedom of speech.

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The authorities of the Baltic States systematically harm Russian media. They obstruct the work of Russian journalists.

For example, in Lithuania “Sputnik Lietuva” is mentioned in the report of the State Security Department of Lithuania. Lithuanian politicians talking about “Sputnik” in the context of “Russian propaganda”.

Lithuania tries to restrict the retransmission of Russian television channels. I.e. soon the broadcasting of the “RTR Planeta” channel in Lithuania could be banned. It is part of the process of pushing Russian media out of the Baltic States.

Lithuania is violating international law. The news agency “Sputnik” is persecuted in Lithuania although this media works by adhering to the law and in line with high journalistic standards.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation message about the Baltic States.

In 2016, Latvia's domain registry shut the website of Sputnik Latvia after receiving a letter of concern from the Latvian Foreign Ministry, which drew attention to Sputnik's coverage of Ukraine and routine denial of Ukraine's territorial integrity. In July 2019, Latvian authorities blocked access to the online portal baltnews.lv, owned by Rossiya Segodnya, citing EU sanctions against Russia. In 2020 Latvia has banned the state-owned Russian television channel RT, saying it is controlled by an individual - Dmitriy Kiselyov, who is under EU sanctions. According to the Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), Latvia's national media watchdog, RT and the network of channels operated by it are under Kiselyov's "effective control" and has attempted to present Latvia as a failed state.

The activities of Sputnik and Baltnews are also in the focus of the State Security Department of Lithuania. The public report “National Threats Assessment 2018”, prepared by the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania and Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defence, states:

“Russian information policy in Lithuania is conducted through the Russia-funded internet portals sputniknews.lt and baltnews.lt. Their goal is to extend Russia’s influence within Lithuania’s information space, promote anti-western sentiments, and shape public opinion favourable to Kremlin”.

Sputnik has also been convicted for violation of copyright. It stole material from the Lithuanian National Broadcasting service (LRT). Lithuania also implements a temporary ban on Russian television channels due to a violation of the law. In 2018, the European Commission decided that that the Lithuanian regulator's decision to suspend the retransmission of a Russian language channel “RTR Planeta” for twelve months due to incitement to hatred, is compatible with EU law. In 2019, the European Court of Justice supported Lithuania in the case about the restriction of another Russian TV channel – “NTV Mir Lithuania's”

Background:

Sputnik was created in Russia by a Presidential decree with the aim to “report on the state policy of Russia abroad”. Sputnik is a regular source of pro-Kremlin disinformation. Baltnews site tries to represent itself as an independent media but in 2017 an investigation showed that it is linked to the Kremlin’s global disinformation network. Baltnews is connected to the Rossiya Segodnya state-owned media company, which includes Sputnik News.

See similar cases of disinformation: Russian media are being discriminated in Baltic states; There are clear violations of the principles of freedom of speech in Estonia; Suppression of media freedom is norm in the Baltic states.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 223
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/12/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Lithuanian, Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Lithuania, Baltic states, Latvia
  • Keywords: Freedom of speech, Media, Sputnik, Russophobia
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