Disinfo: The prosecution of Baltnews and Sputnik Latvia is merely Russophobia


On Thursday, Latvian authorities detained Russian-language journalists from Baltnews and Sputnik Latvia, conducted searches of their homes, interrogated them, and then charged them under Article 84, for allegedly violating the EU sanctions regime. […]

The reason given by the Latvian authorities was EU sanctions against the head of the media holding Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselyov. […]

Therefore, the allegations by the Latvian authorities for violating the EU sanctions regime are unacceptable. The aggressive actions of the Latvian security service in relation to the employees of the Riga in particular and Russian-speaking journalists in general are “a blatant example of the violation of the foundations of a democratic society, namely freedom of the media and freedom of expression.”

“All of this is a real punitive action that leaves no doubt about the Russophobic background of the trumped-up allegations,” said Moscow.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation message about the Baltic States. Read more about the Russian language media in Latvia here.

In December 2020, the Latvian State Security Service performed court-sanctioned procedural activities on sites connected with seven persons in Riga and its surroundings on the grounds of suspicion of violation of international sanctions. According to the reports in Latvian media, an ex-editor and in chief of Baltnews and several people working with an outlet were shortly detained and then released. The Latvian State Security Service underlined, that "no person shall be considered guilty until the guilt of such person has been determined in accordance with the procedures laid down in the law."

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 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. The 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.

See similar cases of disinformation: Russian media are being discriminated in Baltic states; There are clear violations of the principles of freedom of speech in Estonia; Suppression of media freedom is norm in the Baltic states.


  • Reported in: Issue 229
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/12/2020
  • Outlet language(s) German
  • Country: Russia, Latvia
  • Keywords: Freedom of speech, Sputnik, Russophobia, Baltic states
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Recurring disinformation narrative, forwarding hostile narratives on migrants, threatening Christmas and New Years Eve traditions, and about the decline of Christianity in Europe.

Several of the cases, mentioned in the article, belong to a collection of anti-migrant “urban legends” that are circulated in European right wing media. The case from Rozzano has been debunked several times, since it appeared in 2015. The case from German Eschweiler seems to be entirely fiction. Connecting claims to concrete, small places far away serves to lend a tone of authenticity to the disinformation.