Banning television channels is not an effective way of combating propaganda in the Internet age, the Estonian Internal Security Service says.
The agency's spokesperson Harrys Puusepp said in an interview with the daily Õhtuleht on Sunday that raising consciousness and the ability to adequately assess events are more effective tools against propaganda.
When asked about whether the propaganda attacks by Russia have intensified recently, Puusepp said that President Vladimir Putin's regime has been implementing a deliberate foreign policy to achieve its aims in the former Soviet republics for years. The difference to Ukraine is that in that country, Moscow now longer hides behind the label of soft power, using weapons instead.
“There is no cause to speak of a new direction or special activity in terms of Estonia, [it is] the same old propaganda, where blatant lies have been mixed with half-truths and recirculated as historical truth,” Puusepp said, adding that the propaganda against Estonia and Ukraine are connected, as the Russian propaganda machine considers the Russian diaspora as one unit or at least a target group that could be potentially be rallied and united.
By manipulating their opinions, he said, the regime tries to influence the attitudes of both the residents of Crimea as well as the reactions and decisions of countries like Estonia.
When asked about the feeling amongst the Estonian Russian-speaking population, Puusepp said that the situation is calm and it has been stated in Estonian as well as Russian that the situations in Ukraine and Estonia are very different. Still, the views on what happened in Ukraine differ considerably and those who base their opinions on Russian propaganda need more time to analyze their information and compare it to what is reported by the free press.