We regard the actions of the regime in Estonia towards its citizens as public persecution, anarchy in the rule of law, indication of totalitarism and a gross infringement on the principles of freedom of speech unprecedented in the EU. The journalists were only guilty for working for Russian media.
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.
As for anarchy in the rule of law, the matter is quite the opposite: the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu has ephasized that Estonia has not taken any measures against the portal's media content: "They are financial sanctions aimed at economic activity. I believe it to be justified. We have notified the European Commission's Legal Service. European agencies have said in the Commission that steps taken by Estonia in exercising sanctions policy are warranted."
Article 2 of the Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014, on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, foresees freezing the assets of Dmitry Kiselyov, the Director General of Rossiya Segodnya. As a result, Estonian banks froze accounts of Rossiya Segodnya and the Financial Intelligence Unit informed persons employed or contracted by Rossiya Segodnya that knowing performance of work or services to a sanctioned person was forbidden.
Sputnik was created by a Presidential decree with the aim to “report on the state policy of Russia abroad”. Numerous reports have described how top managers from all the large government-controlled outlets and some influential private media attend the weekly meetings where "media managers receive guidelines that “help” them not to overstep the Kremlin’s so-called “double white lines”".
The EU vs Disinfo team has found 49 different Sputnik websites from all over the world and 31 of them are in the Disinfrormation cases database, meaning those outlets have been publishing disinformation. Sputnik Estonia is represented in that database both in Estonian and in Russian languages.
As for precedents, there are plenty: 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. In mid-2019 a court in Vilnius ruled on blocking Sputnik Lithuania over copyright issues.