We regard the actions of the regime in Estonia towards its citizens as public persecution, anarchy in the rule of law, indication of totalitarianism and a gross infringement on the principles of freedom of speech unprecedented in the EU. The journalists were only guilty for working for Russian media.
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.
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.