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
  • Language/target audience: Estonian
  • Country: Estonia
  • Keywords: Dmitry Kiselyov, Sanctions, Sputnik
  • Outlet: Sputnik Estonia
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The regime in Estonia publicly persecutes its citizens

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.

Disproof

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.

As for anarchy in the rule of law, the matter is quite the opposite: the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu has ephasized 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."

Ukraine declared war against Donetsk and Luhansk after the 2014 coup

In April of 2014, the Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, which both declared their independence unilaterally as an expression of their opposition to the coup in Ukraine in February of the same year.
Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine, aiming to portray the conflict as Ukraine's civil war.

The war in eastern Ukraine is not a civil conflict, but a well-documented act of aggression by Russian armed forces, ongoing since February 2014.

There is no freedom of speech in Estonia

The only thing we are guilty of is the fact that we are journalists working for an outlet independent of any government. While we fight for the right to continue our work, we also fight for the rights of readers in Estonia and abroad to access the full spectrum of information.

This is called freedom of speech, that, sadly, is missing in Estonia today, despite the fact that according to Reporters without borders, our country is fit for 11th place in the Press freedom index.

Disproof

As for the freedom of speech, Estonia is indeed 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."

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”".