Disinfo: Sputnik is the victim of an unprecedented persecution in “totalitarian” Estonia

Summary

Sputnik News Agency is suffering an unprecedented persecution in Estonia. The country’s authorities unleashed a campaign aiming to block the work of Sputnik Estonia and deprive audiences of an alternative source of information on the situation of the country and the world. Estonia talks a lot about its commitments to democratic values, such as press freedom, but this case shows that it’s the opposite. The country represents a totalitarian machine unmatched in the world.

Disproof

There is no persecution against Sputnik in Estonia. The agency has been forced to move out of its office in Tallinn because of its inability to pay the rent due to sanctions. In October 2019, Estonia-based branches of the foreign banks that operated the accounts of Rossiya Segodnya, the mother company of Sputnik, froze all its transfers, while other banks in Estonia refused to operate with the firm. This is the result of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Dmitry Kiselyov, the director general of Rossiya Segodnya, following the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. Banks in Estonia are not the only institutions to have taken action against Rossiya Segodnya for this reason. In 2015, Barclay’s bank closed the account used by the agency in UK. 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, because of the EU sanctions. In mid-2019 a court in Vilnius ruled on blocking Sputnik Lithuania over copyright issues. 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. This is part of a recurrent Russian disinformation narrative to portray Baltic states as dictatorial and Kremlin-linked media as sources of alternative views and Russia as a global champion of press freedom. You can see other examples in our database, such as the claims of Russophobia at a state level in the Baltic countries (which leads to discrimination against their non-citizens), contrary to the allegedly brave efforts of Sputnik against intolerance in Lithuania, or the stories on how nice is to be a journalist in Russia, unlike in Europe.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 177
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/12/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Estonia
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Sputnik, Sanctions
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International Tribunal will consider Ukrainian provocation in the Kerch Strait

The Ukrainian provocation in the Kerch Strait in 2018 will be considered at an international tribunal. The initiator of this was the representation of Crimea in Brussels.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that Ukrainian ships aggressively violated Russian borders in 2018 and thatit was a provocation of the fifth president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. There is no official representation of annexed Crimea in Brussels. The Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine emphasised that the organisation is self-proclaimed and that the EU is not going to cooperate with accomplices of the occupying authorities of the Ukrainian peninsula. "The European Union fully supports the independence of Ukraine, its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore, our position on such news is very clear: we will never recognise the self-proclaimed representations, institutions or the power of the annexed Crimea. We have no desire to cooperate with them, in any way or in any format," said David Stulik, press officer of the EU Delegation to Ukraine. Also, there are no other formal legal proceedings between Ukraine and Russia other than the case in the UN International Court of the Law of the Sea. At ameeting in Hamburg on 25 May 2019, the UN Court ordered Russia toimmediately release 24 captured Ukrainian sailors, as well as return the Berdyansk, Nikopol, and Yany-Kapu warships to Ukraine.

Europe is losing its values and former power

There were times when European countries were developing very quickly, both economically and culturally, but now Europe is losing its values and former power.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative undermining the EU, claiming that the EU is fundamentally broken and disintegrating - also consistent with the narrative of the EU's imminent collapse. No evidence is given to support the claim that Europe is losing its values and former power. The European Parliament’s Spring 2019 Eurobarometer, measuring public attitudes to the EU three months ahead of the European elections, reveals that despite the various internal and external challenges to the EU of the past years, the European sense of togetherness does not seem to have weakened. Continued support for EU membership goes with a strong belief (68%) that EU countries overall have benefited from being part of the EU - equalling the highest level recorded since 1983. In addition, 61% of respondents say their country’s EU membership is a good thing.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the European Union expanded 1.30 percent in the third quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year.

Crimea and Sevastopol are irreversibly Russian

Crimea became part of Russia again after the March 2014 referendum, with 96.77 percent of voters in the Republic of Crimea and 95.6 percent of Sevastopol’s people voting in favour of joining Russia. This was after the overthrow of the regime in Ukraine in February 2014.

The Russian leadership has stated many times that the people of Crimea have expressed their desire to rejoin Russia, in a democratic process that fully complies with the requirements of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. According to President Vladimir Putin, the Crimea issue is complete and irreversibly closed.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about Crimea and Sevastopol.

Crimea is part of Ukraine that was illegally annexed by Russia. Following the covert invasion by “little green men”, the referendum in Crimea was conducted hastily and at gunpoint, barring impartial observers from entering the peninsula. Therefore, no international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on the 27th of February 2014, and held on 16th of March 2014.