Disinfo: No freedom of speech in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia


There is no freedom of speech in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia: Russian journalists working in these countries are targeted by special services.


According to Reporters without borders, Latvia ranks 24nd for freedom of speech among 180 countries, the same as for 2018. Lithuania ranks 30th and Estonia 11th. Russia is at 149.

Recurring narrative that the Russian media is restricted unfairly, discriminated against in Europe or that freedom of speech is restricted in certain member states. See previous cases here.This narrative stems from the fact that the Baltic States have undertaken measures to address aggressive Kremlin-backed disinformation starting from 2007.

Since then a number of institutions including the NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga were created to provide an adequate response to misinformation coming from sources in Russian language spreading Kremlin-backed narratives.



  • Reported in: Issue161
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 01/08/2019
  • Language/target audience: Belarusian, Russian
  • Country: Latvia, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania
  • Keywords: Media, Russophobia, Sputnik, Baltic states


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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Russian is now only allowed in private communication and religious ceremonies in Ukraine

In line with the new Language Law, Russian is only allowed in private communication and for the religious ceremonies. In practice, Ukrainians are divided into Ukrainian-speakers and “outlaws”. And the latter ones are limited in their ability to study, receive health care and use other social goods.


A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative criticising the new Law on the Language in Ukraine. See the recent cases here and here.

On April 25, 2019, the Verkhovna Rada passed the law "on ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language". The law establishes mandatory use of the Ukrainian language in most areas of public and communal life, including the mass media, education, science, etc.

Ukraine lost its sovereignty

Ukraine, which used to be a prosperous and self-sufficient country, lost its sovereignty and became involved in internal conflicts which violated the basic rights of citizens defended in all democratic countries.


A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative blaming Ukraine and its political leadership for the conflicts in Donbas, the Crimea annexation and other internal problems and questioning Ukrainian sovereignty.

Ukraine is a sovereign country. Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the Parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA. No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014 and held on 16 March 2014.

The US has unilaterally withdrawn from the INF treaty

The US has unilaterally withdrawn from the INF treaty forcing Russia to reciprocate.


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the US is entirely responsible for the demise of the INF treaty.

Russia bears primary responsibility for the end of the INF Treaty because it has produced, tested and deployed the 9M729 missile, which violates it. In July 2014 the then-US President Obama officially accused Russia of testing a missile in violation of the INF Treaty, which prohibits the US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometres.