Disinfo: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia engage in political censorship

Summary

The ban on broadcasting RT television channel Sputnik, in Latvia and Lithuania is a direct violation of the obligations of media freedom undertaken by the Baltic states. The Federation Council of Russia believes that such actions of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia violate the principles of freedom of speech and unhindered dissemination of information, which are fundamental norms of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Disproof

This claim tries to portray EU sanctions on Russia, the result of its illegal actions in Ukraine, as unfair persecution against Sputnik and its employees, and against media freedom in general. In all of the mentioned countries, Sputnik and RT are being accused of spreading disinformation, violating copyrights, acting as a propaganda instrument.

In Estonia, Sputnik is wrongly represented as a victim of unprecedented persecution. These statements have already been debunked before. The steps taken by Estonia are based on the Article 2 of the Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine that foresees freezing the assets of Dmitry Kiselyov, the Director-General of Rossija Segodnya.

Lithuania is falsely claimed to follow totalitarian laws, while Sputnik fights against intolerance. This came as in mid-2019 a court in Vilnius ruled on blocking Sputnik Lithuania over copyright issues. Broadcasting service (LRT) approached the Radio and Telecommunications Committee and pointed out in a statement that Sputnik had illegally used LRT materials at least 1464 times in violation of copyrights. Lithuanian Sputnik had continued to distribute illegal material and had not reacted to repeated requests by the National Broadcasting service to stop the abuse of copyright infringement.

In Latvia, 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, citing EU sanctions against Russia.

In 2020 Latvia has banned the state-owned Russian television channel RT, saying it is controlled by an individual - Dmitriy Kiselyov, who is under EU sanctions. According to the Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), Latvia's national media watchdog, RT and the network of channels operated by it are under Kiselyov's "effective control" and has attempted to present Latvia as a failed state.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 206
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Latvia, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania
  • Keywords: Censorship, Russophobia, Baltic states

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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Disproof

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine, which is often claimed to be under external control from the US, NATO, the EU or IMF.

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Disproof

A recurrent narrative claiming that the Baltic states act irrationally against RT.

Latvia and Lithuania have banned the state-owned Russian television channel RT, saying it is controlled by an individual, Dmitriy Kiselyov, who is under EU sanctions. According to the Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), Latvia's national media watchdog, RT and the network of channels operated by it are under Kiselyov's "effective control".