Disinfo: Europe’s position in the situation with Sputnik Estonia – criminal silence

Summary

Estonian authorities continue to restrict the activities of Sputnik Estonia, violating the principles of freedom of speech. Sputnik Estonia has become the clearest example of the fight against dissent in the Baltic region. Europe’s attitude towards Sputnik Estonia is frightening. Brussels is silent and this is criminal silence. This frees up the hands of other countries that are beginning to study Estonia’s experience in closing Sputnik. The reaction of European structures shows that there is no freedom of speech in the Baltic countries. European organisations chose the non-interference position only because they are talking about the Russian media.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the undemocratic EU. It also contains recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the West's deliberate anti-Russian activities, double standards. This claim tries to show sanctions against Russia, due to its illegal actions in Ukraine, as unfair persecution against Sputnik and its employees and against  Russian media in general.

In Estonia, Sputnik is represented as a "victim of unprecedented persecution" and example of the fight against dissent in the Baltic region. These kinds of statements were debunked several times. All actions taken by Estonia in relation to Sputnik are aimed at economic activity and not against the outlet's news content, and have a basis in both EU (see Art. 2(1)) and Estonian (see para. 93.1) legislation. The Article 2 of the Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine foresees freezing the assets of Dmitry Kiselyov, the Director-General of Rossija Segodnya. According to the articles of association of the company, the Director-General has the right to decide upon opening bank accounts and carry out invoicing. This corresponds to the condition "having the right to use all or part of the assets of a legal person or entity" in the EU Best Practices for the effective implementation of restrictive measures. "This means that if Rossiya Segodnya, which is controlled by Dmitry Kiselyov, against whom sanctions have been imposed, has assets in Estonia, they must be frozen and access must not be given to funds or economic resources, that is provide services that would enable Rossiya Segodnya to do business. When it comes to Estonia, this prohibition applies to people operating in the territory of Estonia," head of anti-money laundering authority the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Madis Reimand, said.

Estonia is on the 14th place of Reporters without Borders Press freedom index. Estonia has not blocked Sputnik Estonia's website and it is accessible. 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".

Further debunk can be read here.

Similar cases about Sputnik Estonia, claiming that High rating given to Estonia by “Reporters without borders” is fiction, that When it comes to Russia, Europe does not adhere to values, or There is no freedom of speech in Estonia, but an absolute censorship. More cases can be found here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 205
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Baltic states, Estonia
  • Keywords: Russia Today (RT), Freedom of speech, Media, 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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