Disinfo: There are no lies coming from Sputnik

Summary

I would like to add that, as far as I know, Sputnik Estonia has never been accused of lying. As for claiming that Sputnik Estonia is a mouthpiece of Russian propaganda, I have to say that all our [Estonian] biggest newspapers, radio and TV channels are mouthpieces of Estonian propaganda. The main question is whether the propaganda is based on truth or lie or deliberate lie. I repeat, I have not heard of a lie coming from Sputnik. The Estonian authorities are not accusing Sputnik [Estonia] of lying.

Disproof

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”". 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. The Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu said "Sputnik does not constitute journalism as it is understood in the free world in my eyes and in the eyes of many institutions. It is a propaganda institution." According to the minister, the money laundering data bureau is exercising European Union financial sanctions based on Estonian legislation, following the logic that Dmitri Kiselyov, head of Russian media group Rossiya Segodnya, has been among the central propagandists in vindicating Russian aggression in Ukraine. Sputnik Estonia is a branch of that media organization. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also 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." Estonia is ranked as the 11th freest country in the world for press by Reporters Without Borders. 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.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 178
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 28/12/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Estonian
  • Country: Estonia
  • Keywords: Dmitry Kiselyov, Sputnik, Sanctions
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Western societies dominated by childish and stupid people

Italy and Western societies, in general, are increasingly dominated by childish and stupid people and are hostile to values such as courage, loyalty and ardor. This type of individual, which is increasingly common in the West in all social classes, political parties and religions, repeats empty slogans and platitudes, rejects war and is convinced that he is the vanguard of a new society. In Italy, individuals with these characteristics are selling off the country to foreigners and are unaware of the consequences of their actions.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the decadence of Western values, about the moral bankruptcy of the West and about threatened national identity. According to the narrative of threatened values, the “effeminate West” is rotting under the onslaught of decadence, materialism, gender ideologies and “political correctness”, while Russia embodies traditional values, spirituality and higher virtues. Closely related to the narrative of lost sovereignty, that of threatened national identity maintains that existential danger stems from a diverse array of sources: Islam, gay people, children’s rights, and more. In this specific case, the supposed sell-off of nations to foreigners is the combined result of the two narratives. Read similar cases claiming that post-modern feminism in the West is leading to the total destruction of men and that the West degrades traditional values and endangers societies.

Estonian laws only foresee asset freezing for people and companies mentioned in the EU sanctions list

The Estonian laws only foresee asset freezing for people and companies mentioned in the EU sanctions list. This means that Rossija Segodnya can only be sanctioned if it is proven that Dmitri Kiselyov owns or controls the assets of the organization. It’s a fact that Kiselyov does not own the money nor resources of Rossiya Segodnya, it’s all [Russian] state property.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative portraying Western governments as hostile toward "alternative voices" in the media, particularly Russian ones.

Estonia is on the 11th place of Reporters without Borders Press freedom index. Estonia has not blocked Sputnik Estonia's website, 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."

Sputnik Estonia and its employees are being persecuted

This is the persecution, the real persecution, which is now being conducted against not only the Sputnik Estonia, but specifically, every employee who goes to work. Sputnik Estonia’s reporters did not violate the laws of the country and professional ethics.

Disproof

Recurring disinformation campaign aimed at the Estonian authorities. There is no persecution against Sputnik in Estonia as clarified by a recent interview given by the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Estonia is on the 11th place of Reporters without Borders Press freedom index. 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 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. Banks in Estonia are not the only institutions to have taken action against Rossiya Segodnya for this reason. In 2015, Barclays bank closed the account used by the agency in the 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. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Russian media is being discriminated in the Baltic states and that Baltic states’ policies equal to Third Reich. Further information on Sputnik's operations can be read in our article circling-the-earth.