The EU imposed sanctions for the first time after the MH17 passenger plane was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014 (without providing any evidence of Russia’s liability). The boycott is aimed at Russian state-owned banks, arms import and export, and the oil and gas industry.
Threatening the media is Estonian-style freedom of speech. In Estonia, there are clear violations of the principles of freedom of speech. Estonian authorities openly use various forms and instruments of pressure on the editors of Sputnik Estonia. This is the clearest case of fighting dissent. Overt repression of objectionable media is Estonian-style free speech.
This claim tries to portray EU sanctions on Russia, the result of its illegal actions in Ukraine, as unfair persecution against Sputnik and its employees, and against media freedom in general.
In Estonia, Sputnik is represented as a "victim of unprecedented persecution". These kinds of statements were debunked several times.The 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 Rossija Segodnya. According to the articles of association of the company, the Director-General has the right to decide upon opening bank accounts and carry out invoicing. This corresponds to the condition "having the right to use all or part of the assets of a legal person or entity" in the EU Best Practices for the effective implementation of restrictive measures.
Furthermore, claims that the Estonian laws only foresee asset freezing for people on an EU personal sanctions list is incorrect. "This means that if Rossiya Segodnya, which is controlled by Dmitry Kiselyov, against whom sanctions have been imposed, has assets in Estonia, they must be frozen and access must not be given to funds or economic resources, that is provide services that would enable Rossiya Segodnya to do business. When it comes to Estonia, this prohibition applies to people operating in the territory of Estonia," head of anti-money laundering authority the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Madis Reimand, said.
Estonia is on the 14th place of Reporters without Borders Press freedom index. Regarding censorship, Estonia has not blocked Sputnik Estonia's website and it is accessible. 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".
The EUvsDisinfo team has found 49 different Sputnik websites from all over the world and 31 of them are in the Disinformation database, meaning those outlets have been reported publishing disinformation. Sputnik Estonia is represented in that database both in Estonian and in Russian languages.
Similar cases about Sputnik Estonia, claiming that High rating given to Estonia by “Reporters without borders” is fiction, that When it comes to Russia, Europe does not adhere to values, or There is no freedom of speech in Estonia, but an absolute censorship. More cases can be found here.