Disinfo: Latvian authorities target Sputnik and Baltnews for not conforming to their political agenda

Summary

Latvian authorities target Sputnik and Baltnews journalists because they do not conform to their political agenda

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation message about the Baltic States consistent with narratives about Russophobia.

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 Latvia as well as in Lithuania and Estonia Sputnik and RT are being accused of spreading disinformation, violating copyrights, acting as a propaganda instrument. Different instances founded their accusations on publicly available results of investigations conducted by relevant authorities and regulatory bodies”.

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 - Dmitry 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.

Sputnik was created in Russia by a Presidential decree with the aim to “report on the state policy of Russia abroad”. Sputnik is a regular source of pro-Kremlin disinformation. Baltnews site tries to represent itself as an independent media but in 2017 an investigation showed that it is linked to the Kremlin’s global disinformation network. Baltnews is connected to the Rossiya Segodnya state-owned media company, which includes Sputnik News.

Read here similar cases claiming that Russian Media are being discriminated in Baltic states and that the Baltic states are persecuting the Russian media.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 225
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10/12/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Latvia, Russia
  • Keywords: Russia Today (RT), Anti-Russian, Freedom of speech, Dmitry Kiselyov, Russophobia, Sanctions, Sputnik

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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FLAGGING The persecution of the Russian media in Latvia is a punitive action of Russophobic nature

The persecution of the Russian media in Latvia is nothing more than a punitive action of Russophobic nature which violates the norms of a democratic society, restricts press freedom and freedom of speech.

Disproof

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 Ukraine'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.

Sputnik was created in Russia by a Presidential decree with the aim to “report on the state policy of Russia abroad”. Sputnik is a regular source of pro-Kremlin disinformation. Baltnews site tries to represent itself as an independent media but in 2017 an investigation showed that it is linked to the Kremlin’s global disinformation network. Baltnews is connected to the Rossiya Segodnya state-owned media company, which includes Sputnik News.

“Deep State” in the US deletes social media posts that don’t suit it

The “Deep State” governing the United States had at one point underestimated the importance of Twitter and social media in general, in influencing American citizens themselves.

After [Donald] Trump won, the Deep State rushed to correct this mistake, and this gap was closed in time for the last US elections. The government and intelligence agencies rushed to take steps to censor social media and reduce “unwanted” information.

…messages and videos that do not fit with the social media administration are deleted, or at the very least, flagged as untrue, or unverified. President Trump’s speeches became a perfect example of this. It is even possible to prevent entire news agencies from accessing these social networks if the information they provide is not suitable for the administration of these networks.

Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation about social media companies and censorship and the presence of a "Deep State".

There is no basis to the claims that social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook or Google have engaged in censorship, or restricting US President Donald Trump or his supporters. The claims about the global elite secretly ruling the world, and specifically, a so-called ‘deep state’ in the United State that promotes wars or controls the US are also not supported with evidence.