Disinfo: There are clear violations of the principles of freedom of speech in Estonia

Summary

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.

Disproof

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.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 203
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 22/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Estonia
  • Keywords: Freedom of speech, Media, Sputnik
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Ukraine is going to launch a missile strike on Russia

Ukraine is going to attack the Russian city of Novorossiysk with Neptune rockets. They will not succeed, because the Ukrainians cannot create anything themselves. Ukraine is just using Soviet rocket models.

Disproof

The Ukrainian authorities did not declare that they intend to start bombing Russian cities. The modernisation of Ukraine's defence complex began after the start of Russian aggression, as a response to the Kremlin's occupation of Ukrainian territories. A sample of the brand new Neptune cruise missile was presented in 2015, shortly followed by practical testing. Neptune was created as the first Ukrainian cruise missile and it is possible to use it from various types of carriers: ships, aircraft and coastal complexes. The ground-based cruise missile is a fully Ukrainian development of the state-owned enterprise Luch, in cooperation with Motor Sich and other enterprises that are part of the Ukroboronprom state concern. The Kremlin launched the disinformation campaign against the latest Ukrainian development, the Neptune cruise missile, back in 2014-2015, when Ukraine began to modernise its defence complex. And while the Ukrainian missile was developed, and then successfully tested, Russian propaganda stubbornly stated that Ukraine was allegedly “unable” to create a new model of weapons. Starting from 2017, Russian media systematically released fake materials about the Ukrainian cruise missile, having developed a certain set of narratives about the Ukrainian Neptune cruise missile.

From a legal point of view, Crimea has always been Russian

Firstly, Crimea has always been ours, even from the legal point of view. Secondly, we did not get it – the people living in Crimea decided to reunite with Russia, and this is the highest degree of manifestation of democracy. When the Soviet Union was created, the right of withdrawal was stipulated in the treaty. Since the procedure of withdrawal was not specified, the question arises: if this or that republic became part of the Soviet Union, got a huge amount of Russian lands, traditional Russian historical territories, and then suddenly decided to leave this union. Let it at least leave with what she came. And not to carry away gifts received from the Russian people with it.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA (see the resolution A/RES/68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine). No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014 and held on 16 March 2014. A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum. The European Union does not recognise Crimea's annexation and continues to condemn it as a violation of international law. EU sanctions continue to be in place against Russia as a consequence of the annexation. For the EU's statement on the sixth anniversary of Crimea annexation see here. Historical background: As for the part of the narrative that "if this or that republic became part of the Soviet Union, got a huge amount of Russian lands, traditional Russian historical territories" (Ukraine is not named but was highly likely meant), the statement is also untrue. Crimea was annexed by Russian empire, then containing Ukraine, in 1783, already in violation of a treaty which guaranteed the independence of the Tatar khanate. In 1897, the first comprehensive census of the population of the empire indicates that the Russians are only one third of the inhabitants of Crimea, where they are still slightly fewer than the indigenous Crimean Tatars. The Russians only became a majority after the complete deportation in 1944 of the Tatars, who could only return after the fall of the communist regime. The annexation of Crimea to the then Soviet Ukraine, in 1954, was not done on a not ethnic, but geographical and economic basis, since the peninsula was adjoining and economically depending from the mainland areas, it means, Ukraine. At that, in 1937 Russian Soviet Socialist Republic received Taganrog from Ukrainian Socialist Republic. But Russia is not ready to "give this gift back " to Ukraine. There were several interchanges of territories between USSR's republics, which are all now sovereign States recognised by international law.

US surrounds Russia with biological laboratories for a future attack

US military biologists specifically create secret biological laboratories around Russia. The United States secretly collects the Russian genome and wants to gain control over it. The combat use of these secret biological laboratories has already begun in Ukraine. Moreover, the United States officially recognised that 15 secret biological laboratories are indeed located in Ukraine.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory about "secret" biological weapons. The US Embassy in Ukraine has repeatedly denied the "creation of military biological laboratories" in Ukraine. Over many years, the United States and Ukraine have only ever cooperated in the prevention of biological threats. The US Department of Defence’s Biological Threat Reduction Program collaborates with partner countries to counter the threat of outbreaks (deliberate, accidental or natural) of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases. The Biological Threat Reduction Program’s priorities in Ukraine are to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern and to continue to ensure Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats. BTRP really has upgraded many laboratories for the Ministry of Health and the State Food Safety and Consumer Protection Service of Ukraine, reaching Biosafety Level 2. In 2019 BTRP started constructing two laboratories for the latter, one in Kyiv and one in Odesa. The Ukrainian Science and Technology Centre is an intergovernmental organisation established in 1993. The work of these scientific laboratories is not aimed at "collecting the Russian genome." All data on the mission of international scientific cooperation are in the public domain, and information on scientific and technical laboratories is not a "secret". Read the similar case that the US tests biological weapons on Ukrainians to further attack Russia.