Disinfo: Estonia is afraid of Sputnik's influence

Summary

Threats to Sputnik journalists in Estonia indicate that the country must be afraid of their influence on people.

Disproof

There is no persecution against Sputnik in Estonia. The agency has been forced to move out of its office in Tallinn because of its inability to pay the rent due to sanctions. In October 2019, Estonia-based branches of the foreign banks that operated the accounts of Rossiya Segodnya, the mother company of Sputnik, froze all its transfers, while other banks in Estonia refused to operate with the firm. This is the result of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Dmitry Kiselyov, the director general of Rossiya Segodnya, following the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. Banks in Estonia are not the only institutions to have taken action against Rossiya Segodnya for this reason. In 2015, Barclay’s bank closed the account used by the agency in UK. 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 the embattled nation's territorial integrity. In July 2019, Latvian authorities blocked access to the online portal baltnews.lv, owned by Rossiya Segodnya, because of the EU sanctions. In mid-2019 a court in Vilnius ruled on blocking Sputnik Lithuania over copyright issues. Estonia is ranked as the 11th freest country in the world for press by Reporters Without Borders. 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. This is part of a recurrent Russian disinformation narrative to portray Baltic states as dictatorial and Kremlin-linked media as sources of alternative views and Russia as a global champion of press freedom. You can see other examples in our database, such as the claims of Russophobia at a state level in the Baltic countries (which leads to discrimination against their non-citizens), contrary to the allegedly brave efforts of Sputnik against intolerance in Lithuania, or the stories on how nice is to be a journalist in Russia, unlike in Europe.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 178
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/12/2019
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Country: Estonia
  • Keywords: Sputnik
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NATO prepares for a great conflict

NATO’s military exercises in the Baltic countries, Poland, in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea indicate that it is preparing for a large-scale conflict. Also, NATO promotes theories about the “Russian military threat”, interpreting any Russian security process or any planned transparent military construction event as a threat to peace.

Disproof

This claim involves speculation without any evidence. Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about NATO's belligerence towards Russia, portraying the Alliance as a threat to peace. NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect its member states. NATO exercises and military deployments are not directed against Russia – or any other country. Any claims that NATO is preparing an attack on Russia are absurd. In direct response to Russia's use of military force against its neighbours, NATO has deployed four multinational battlegroups to the Baltic States and Poland. These forces are rotational, defensive and proportionate. They cannot compare to the three divisions Russia has established in its Western Military and Southern Military Districts. Before Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, there were no plans to deploy Allied troops to the eastern part of the Alliance. NATO's aim is to prevent conflict, protect its Allies, and preserve the peace.

US is supporting and moving ISIS to Afghanistan

There is ample evidence of America’s involvement in supporting ISIS and the transfer of its forces to Afghanistan. The latest statistics indicate that there are 2,500 to 4,000 ISIS members in Afghanistan.

Disproof

No evidence is provided to support the claim. Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the US supporting ISIS; examples can be found here and here. This message is part of a broader conspiracy theory alleging that the United States has established many terrorist organizations and controls global terrorism.

Both Russia and Iran are interested in portraying jihadist groups such as ISIS/Daesh as supported by the US. In reality, the US and NATO forces have been fighting ISIS, not helping them.

NATO is preparing for a big war, probably with Russia

NATO is getting ready for a war on a big scale. The deployment of the US anti-missile system in Europe and the scripts of the military exercises in the Baltic countries and Poland and in the Black and Baltic Seas show that the Atlantic Alliance is preparing for a long-reaching armed conflict.

Disproof

This is part of a recurrent Russian narrative aiming to portray NATO as an aggressive organisation, a US puppet and a tool of Washington’s imperial ambitions with no real substance nor justification to exist. NATO is a mutual defence alliance of democratic states aiming to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. It has no interest in starting an armed conflict for no apparent reason. The aforementioned military exercises actually aim to test procedures and tactics, develop best practices and identify areas for improvement. Exercises are designed to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction. Read other examples of disinformation against the Atlantic Alliance and its obsolescence, cannibalistic character and fascistic tendencies, claiming that NATO's anti-Russian stance is the only unifying force among its members, and describing its links to white supremacist ideology or the massive casualties of its bombing campaign against Serbia.