DISINFO: Estonia oppresses Russian media as part of the new global wave of anti-Russian sanctions
DISINFORMATION CASE DETAILS
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Anti-Russian Sputnik Sanctions Baltic states

DISINFO: Estonia oppresses Russian media as part of the new global wave of anti-Russian sanctions

SUMMARY

Russian journalists and media outlets are regularly attacked and oppressed by Baltic states’ authorities. Websites of Sputnik Lithuania and Sputnik Latvia were blocked for some time, recently Estonian authorities made Sputnik Estonia payments problematic claiming that the money is terroristic. Given that no Media Law exists in Estonia, there is no such thing as official accreditation, hence who will be considered a propagandist depends on what will be on the mind of a certain bureaucrat. It looks like a consecutive sanction wave against Russia is coming. WADA statement to ban Russia from the Olympics, events around Sputnik offices in the Baltic countries, and Zelenskyy’s visit to the Baltics are all parts of one chain.

RESPONSE

This publication misrepresents the reasons behind occasional Baltic states' legal actions against Sputnik and puts forward a conspiracy of West's concerted anti-Russian actions. 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. Although there is no specific law on the press in Estonia, the media space is regulated by the Estonian journalists code of ethics and various pieces of legislation. Freedom of speech in Estonia is guaranteed by the Constitution, laws and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Estonia is ranked as the 11th freest country in the world for press by Reporters Without Borders and belongs to Freedom House's Freedom of the Press top countries. 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. In mid-2019 a court in Vilnius ruled on blocking Sputnik Lithuania over copyright issues. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Estonia and Lithuania are totalitarian, that Russian media is being discriminated in the Baltic states, and that Baltic states’ policies equal to Third Reich.

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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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