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
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There are no Ukrainians, no separate nation and language

Ukrainians were told that they are a separate nation with their own language. In fact, Ukraine is the chimera that has been created in recent decades.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Ukraine is an artificial country and that Ukrainians are a part of a larger Russian nation.

Ukraine is a well-defined nation-state that has preserved language, literature and identity despite foreign rule for long periods. It is a sovereign state whose borders are guaranteed by international agreements but were violated by Russia through the illegal annexation of Crimea. Ukraine is recognised in international law as a sovereign nation-state, with its own flag, nationality, language and with a democratically-elected president and parliament.

Russia Segodnya and RT are different entities

The Radio and Television Broadcasting Commission of Lithuania has banned the broadcasting of 5 channels belonging to the RT network, due to European sanctions imposed on the Director-General of the “Russia Segodnya” media agency Dmitry Kiselyov.

Kiselyov is head of “Russia Segodnya” agency, the latter and the RT network are two different legal entities.

RT is run by its editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, who is not subject to any European sanctions.

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".

Constitutional amendments unleashed Russophobia because the West doesn’t like a strong Russia

The West doesn’t like a strong and firm Russia, which is not convenient for its interests. That’s why the Russophobia unleashed in face of the recent referendum on Constitutional amendments aims to discredit Russia in the eyes of the international community and to generate disconformity and internal breaches. Hegemonic mainstream media, some political institutes and NGOs used every mean at hand to express their rejection of Russia’s democratic procedure. They even tried to deter Russian voters from taking part in the voting.

Disproof

No evidence given. International criticism of some aspects of the referendum on Constitutional amendments was not due to alleged “Russophobia” but to its problematic aspects, such as Article 79, which stipulates that “decisions of interstate bodies” shall not be “subject to enforcement in the Russian Federation” if they run counter to the Constitution. This means, for example, that Russia won’t feel obliged to comply with binding rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. Other elements, such as its definition of marriage as the union of man and woman, have been strongly criticised by LGBT activists and human rights defenders. One of the most controversial amendments, removing term limits for president Vladimir Putin to remain in power beyond his original mandate, was also condemned by Russian pro-democracy and opposition activists.

The European Union regretted that, in the run up to this vote, campaigning both for and against was not allowed, thereby denying voters access to balanced information.