Disinfo: The regime in Estonia publicly persecutes its citizens

Summary

We regard the actions of the regime in Estonia towards its citizens as public persecution, anarchy in the rule of law, indication of totalitarianism 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.

Disproof

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.

 

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 178
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 31/12/2019
  • Language/target audience: Estonian
  • Country: Estonia
  • Keywords: Dmitry Kiselyov, Sanctions, Sputnik
  • Outlet: Sputnik Estonia
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Ukraine declared war against Donetsk and Luhansk after the 2014 coup

In April of 2014, the Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, which both declared their independence unilaterally as an expression of their opposition to the coup in Ukraine in February of the same year.
Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine, aiming to portray the conflict as Ukraine's civil war.

The war in eastern Ukraine is not a civil conflict, but a well-documented act of aggression by Russian armed forces, ongoing since February 2014.

There is no freedom of speech in Estonia

The only thing we are guilty of is the fact that we are journalists working for an outlet independent of any government. While we fight for the right to continue our work, we also fight for the rights of readers in Estonia and abroad to access the full spectrum of information.

This is called freedom of speech, that, sadly, is missing in Estonia today, despite the fact that according to Reporters without borders, our country is fit for 11th place in the Press freedom index.

Disproof

As for the freedom of speech, Estonia is indeed on the 11th place of Reporters without Borders Press freedom index. It's important to note that Estonia has not blocked Sputnik Estonia's website, as it is accessible and operational. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu has emphasized 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."

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”".

EU pursues policy of demonisation of Russia

The so called historical resolution of the European Parliament has no connection to history whatsoever. It’s a pure provocation, which is consistent with the current EU policy towards Russia – demonisation.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU and the resolution of the European Parliament on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe. Also see previous disinformation cases accusing others of provocations.

The current legal basis for EU-Russia relations is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which came into force in 1997, initially for 10 years. Since 2007 it has been renewed annually. It established a political framework for regular consultation between the EU and Russia, based on the principles of respect for democracy and human rights, political and economic freedom, and commitment to international peace and security. Furthermore, the PCA is complemented by sectorial agreements covering a wide range of policy areas, including political dialogue, trade, science and technology, education, energy and environment, transport, and prevention of illegal activities. Some of these dialogues and consultations have been suspended following the annexation of Crimea. Read more here.