Estonian MEP Yana Toom (Center) has declared that she will continue to give interviews to Sputnik despite Prime Minister and Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas recently explicitly forbidding Estonian MPs from engaging with the Russian propaganda channel.
"I will definitely not be subjected to media bans, that is out of the question!" Toom told BNS on Monday. "I also said that to Jüri Ratas and other colleagues. I am a former journalist; I can see who is lying and who is not."
Toom added that she would not be cooperating with journalists who manipulate what she has said, noting that Sputnik has not done so.
"For example, I do not give interviews to [Russian TV channel] NTV, as I have experience with them where they cut my interview into pieces and glue it together with some other things — in other words, they turn it upside down," she explained. "And there are a couple of TV show hosts whom we don't talk to. I do not go on one TV show on [Russian TV channel] Pervy Baltiysky Kanal in Moscow as I know that is not a respectable place."
The MEP asserted, however, that Sputnik was totally okay in principle. "I am not speaking of that group not being meant to exert influence; it is," she admitted. "But that that they would have been lying, twisting or violating journalistic ethics — this has not happened. No complaints have been made — no complaints during the year that they have been operating [in Estonia]; not in court or the Estonian Press Council. Sorry, those are the facts."
Toom claimed she understood Ratas and noted that this was his own free choice. "But I cannot imagine that I can say 'go away' to my former colleagues who tomorrow may be working at [Estonian daily] Postimees," she said. "Because, as you know, Russian journalists — same as Estonian journalists — are a colorful bunch."
The topic of members of the Center Party giving interviews to Sputnik was last raised on May 9, when MP Olga Ivanova gave an interview to the Russian propaganda channel. Ratas condemned Ivanova's actions and announced that the party had forbidden its members from giving interviews to Sputnik. A similar scandal arose in February when Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps spoke on the Holocaust and Soviet deportations in an interview with Sputnik, after which the prime minister advised state officials to avoid communicating with the media outlet.
Editor: Aili Vahtla