Disinfo: Violation of freedom of speech in Central and Eastern Europe supervised by the US

Summary

The authoritarian practices in the Baltic states and Poland become more and more obvious. No one is trying to pretend anymore that freedom of speech should be respected.

The repressions against the journalists in Latvia should not come as a surprise. It is not the first case of gross violation of freedom of speech in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly against the background of discussions about the rule of law in the EU.

Many believe that there is a group of countries of Central Europe which are under a strong influence of Washington and follow its political agenda. This block includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

The political influence of the US leads to an active role of American secret services in these countries. American curators influence local authorities to clear the information sphere from all alternative sources of information. Due to the geopolitical situation, the biggest part of these alternative sources of information is Russian media.

Disproof

This article repeats two recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives: one about the oppression of the freedom of speech in Central and Eastern Europe and another about the US presence in Europe.

The statement that the Baltic states and Poland manifest “authoritarian practices” in the area of freedom of speech is a manipulative one, especially in comparison with the situation in Russia. In the “Freedom of the press 2020” ranking (by Reporters Without Borders) Estonia is on 14th place, Latvia on 22nd place, Lithuania on 28th place, Romania on 48th place, Poland on 62nd place out of 180 countries. The region is not monolithic. Estonia belongs to the group of states where the situation is evaluated as “good”, the situation in Latvia and Lithuania is “fairly good”, Poland and Romania belong to “problematic” group of countries. Russia holds in this ranking 149th position, the situation of media freedom in the country described as “bad”.

In the “Freedom in the World” ranking (by Freedom House) Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania were evaluated as free countries. Russia belongs to the group of not free countries.

The narrative about the influence of the US in countries of Central and Eastern Europe is also recurring in pro-Kremlin disinformation. It portrays European countries as puppets or vassals of Washington. The Baltic states and Poland are most often presented as the US puppets (see examples here, here and here), but not only these countries. I.e., disinformation could portray Germany as a vassal of Washington too.

See similar examples of disinformation: Lithuania has transformed into a totalitarian society, where any alternative opinion is rejected; Russian media are being discriminated in Baltic states; US political uncertainty temporarily gives the Baltic states a larger degree of sovereignty; New American president will use Poland for the destabilisation of the post-Soviet countries.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 224
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/12/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Romania, Poland, US, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia
  • Keywords: Censorship, Freedom of speech, Puppets, US presence in Europe, Secret services
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Disinfo: Lithuania constantly interferes in the affairs of Belarus

Lithuania constantly interferes into the affairs of Belarus, supporting the opposition and calling for new elections in the neighbouring country. Lithuanian politicians think that the results of the presidential elections in Belarus were “falsified”. The Baltic countries implement personal sanctions against some Belarusian officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko.

Moscow has urged Lithuania many times not to destabilise the situation in the neighbouring country and allow people in Belarus to take matters in their own hands.

The Belarusian authorities have said many times that protests in the country are coordinated from abroad. Lukashenko accuses Western countries of direct interference in the situation in the republic. The US is the main coordinator and Europeans are supporters of the riots in Belarus.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Lithuania and alleged Western attempts to organise a colour revolution in Belarus.

Lithuania is a neighbour of Belarus and it continues to support the Belarusian people. This support has included the possibility for Belarusians to arrive in Lithuania under the so-called humanitarian exception, the possibility for students from Belarus to begin studies in Lithuania etc.

Disinfo: NATO and the US organise constant provocations near Russian borders

NATO’s Secretary General is trying to substantiate NATO’s actions in the region with fabricated pretexts. Recently, the number of aggressive actions by the alliance near the Russian border has significantly increased. It is obvious that NATO’s actions are creating tension in the region. For example, military exercises in Romania and Georgia, or a strong desire to establish a base in Georgia. as well as the constant provocations organised by NATO and the United States.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on NATO belligerence towards Russia and on Russophobia.

Every nation has the right to conduct military exercises, but it is important that they are conducted transparently and in line with international obligations.

Disinfo: Elections in Venezuela were free and fair

The United States and the European Union have once again rushed to denounce the legitimacy of the electoral process several weeks before the polls opened. These allegations could, of course, be very easily confirmed or refuted by sending international observers. But once again, the most powerful countries in the West rejected Maduro’s request to send independent experts. In particular, Brussels set a condition for the delay of the election process, which would be in violation of the Venezuelan constitution which stipulates that elections must be held by the end of the year in order to replace the members of the National Assembly.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin media report in support of Venezuela and of the authoritarian Maduro regime. It also aims to discredit international and European criticism to the electoral process and accuse the West and more specifically, the EU, of interference in the country's domestic affairs.

The EU warned the Venezuelan authorities early on about the need to create proper conditions for fair and free elections to be held. The HR/VP of the European Commission Josep Borrell had tried to achieve a consensus between the Maduro regime and the opposition led by Juan Guaido on minimum requirements for elections to be held. These efforts took place as early as last September.