Disinfo: Estonian openly persecutes journalists

Summary

The actions of the Estonian regime are an open persecution of journalists, an example of totalitarianism and a gross violation of the freedom of expression.

Disproof

This claim tries to show sanctions against Russia, due to its illegal actions in Ukraine, as an unfair persecution against the outlet and its employees, and against media freedom in general.

As for freedom of expression, Estonia is ranked as the 11th freest country in the world for press by Reporters Without Borders. Estonia does not persecute journalists or limit freedom of expression. It's important to note that Estonia has not blocked Sputnik Estonia's website, as it is accessible and operational. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu has emphasized that Estonia has not taken any measures against the portal's media content: "They are financial sanctions aimed at economic activity. I believe it to be justified. We have notified the European Commission's Legal Service. European agencies have said in the Commission that steps taken by Estonia in exercising sanctions policy are warranted."

The current problems of Sputnik Estonia stem from sanctions against Dmitry Kiselyov, Director-General of Rossiya Segodnya, the mother company of Sputnik, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Article 2 of the Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014, on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, foresees Kiselyov’s assets to be frozen. As a result, Estonian banks froze the accounts of Rossiya Segodnya and the Financial Intelligence Unit informed persons employed or contracted by Rossiya Segodnya that it is forbidden to knowingly perform work or provide services to a sanctioned person.

Estonia is considered a consolidated democracy by Freedom House and a Flawed Democracy by the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, similar to countries like the US, Japan, France, Portugal or Belgium. Thus, Estonia is by no means a totalitarian regime.

The EU vs Disinfo team has found 49 different Sputnik websites from all over the world and 31 of them are in the Disinfrormation cases database, meaning those outlets have been publishing disinformation. Sputnik Estonia is represented in that database both in Estonian and in Russian languages.

Sputnik was created by a Presidential decree with the aim to “report on the state policy of Russia abroad”. Numerous reports have described how top managers from all the large government-controlled outlets and some influential private media attend the weekly meetings where "media managers receive guidelines that “help” them not to overstep the Kremlin’s so-called “double white lines”".

 

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue179
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 31/12/2019
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Estonia
  • Keywords: Freedom of speech, Sputnik

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Pro-Western Belarusian opposition prepares ‘kill lists’ and a genocide

Belarusian opposition including blogger NEXTA sends questionnaires to all citizens asking to complete them. In case it succeeds with a coup d’état and bloody revolution, these “kill lists” come into play. They will include a wide range of people such as state officials and parliamentarians, all school teachers who took part in electoral campaigns, military servicemen and various law enforcement agencies’ employees, state journalists, all citizens who used to live or work in Russia or have close relatives in Russia, Orthodox believers, those who have never taken part in any opposition protest, etc. The people on “kill lists” will be announced traitors which will prevent them to get any job, pensions, or any other kind of state assistance. The pro-European new authorities will send “kill lists” people to dig trenches because a military conflict with Russia will start. A genocide of Belarusian people will start as soon as the opposition will come to power.

Disproof

This is a conspiracy theory and ungrounded claims aimed to discredit the West, democratic Belarusian opposition, civic activists and bloggers. This disinformation message is a modification of a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Western attempts to organise a colour revolution in Belarus and to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations.

In late 2019 the most popular Belarusian blogger NEXTA indeed asked his followers to complete an anonymous questionnaire concerning the blogger's content, however, it has nothing to do with the alleged collection of anyone's personal data for the so-called "kill lists".

WWII started before September 1, 1939

The Polish Parliament should note – before September 1, 1939, during World War II, 10 million Chinese citizens had already lost their lives.

Disproof

This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism. These words of Vyacheslav Nikonov (grandson of Molotov) are an attempt to erode the disastrous historical role of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by stating that WWII started before September 1, 1939 (referring to Munich Agreements, the Japanese invasion of China, etc.).

The World War II started on September 1, 1939, from the German attack on Poland. This invasion was a direct consequence of the Secret Protocols to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, where Nazi Germany and the USSR divided the “spheres of influence” in Eastern and Central Europe. The Soviet Union attacked Poland on September 17, 1939, implementing its part of the Secret Protocols.

Opposing the Union State of Belarus and Russia: an attempt to set up a geopolitical catastrophe

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Active organisers of the USSR’s collapse, a geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, currently work to destroy Russia and Belarus, that is to organize a geopolitical catastrophe of 21st century. Opposition to the Union State of Belarus and Russia is Russophobia. Adopting Western values and carrying out economic reforms in post-Soviet countries resulted in the impoverishment of people and the degradation of statehood. By demanding to replace national values and traditions with foreign ideas, to change the mentality of Russians and Belarusians, adversaries attempt to move the countries to the periphery of world development.

Disproof

This is a mix of conspiracies which is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin propagandistic narratives about Belarus as an integral part of the Russian world and the West's attempts to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations.

It equals opposition to the Union State to Russophobia and puts forward a false dilemma about the direction of Belarus and other post-Soviet countries' political development (union with Russia vs. unavoidable degradation) and promotes the concept of all-Russian civilisation, an imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology that is a favoured pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at weakening the national identity of Belarusians and Ukrainians, as well as their sovereignty.