According to polls, the connection of followers of Russian media in Estonia to Russia is more cultural than political, but there is still enough material which the Kremlin can use for its own goals, Center for Defense and Security research fellow Riina Kaljurand said.
“If we look at statistics, then usually there are percentages and numbers, but we do not see the people behind the stats and if we are talking about a war of information, then we ourselves can easily become victims by allowing ourselves to accept baseless prejudice towards minorities, which live in the same nation as us,” Kaljurand told ETV today.
She said there are many in the Russian community in Estonia who follow Russian media channels, and who admire Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that the admiration is done from a distance and few actually want to move to Russia.
She said Estonia has a tendency to politicize everything that is connected to Russia, adding that the connection of Russian-speakers in Estonia to Russia is more cultural.
“Russia has been able to portray itself as a winner, they are selling the image that they are doing well, and that due to US and Western nations' actions in the Middle East, it is Russia which has to go in, restore order and save everyone,” she said.
That image may be attractive to those who feel they do not belong anywhere, that they are not part of the Estonian community, but who also do not see themselves as citizens of the Russian state, Kaljurand said.
“A person needs a source of pride or something to create self worth,” she said, adding that if Estonia cannot offer that, then Russia might be successful.
She said that currently, Russian propaganda is very general, but there is still enough dangerous ground in Estonia. Kaljurand said that if things get out of hand, the trigger is likely to be pulled from across the eastern border.
The Center for Defense and Security recently conducted a study on the impact of Russian propaganda.
Editor: J.M. Laats