Director General of the Estonian Internal Security Service (KAPO) Arnold Sinisalu said that despite the fact that Russia planned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, restrictions caused by the coronavirus crisis are forcing them to celebrate in a more laid-back manner.
Sinisalu said at the press conference following the introduction of the KAPO yearbook that Russia is not sure whether they will be hosting their major military parade on May 9.
"It has been discussed that the few veterans of World War II who are still alive will not come to the Red Square," Sinisalu said. "It is important to remain rational in this situation. There are definitely some people who want to show defiance. And if the 2+2 rule in Estonia were to last until then, they will go to the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn and bring flowers. They are individual people and there's no need to worry in the big picture."
The global coronavirus crisis and emergency situation haven't changed much in KAPO's operations, the director general said, adding that the situation is calm and restrictions related to the emergency situation have rather inhibited actions that may be of interest to them.
He also doesn't consider the fake news that appeared at the beginning of the crisis and the rise of Russian-language social media posts spreading false information about the restrictions to be important.
"Fake news appears with every crisis, but I'm not seeing the picture so pessimistically," Sinisalu said. "We haven't had to waste people's work time to analyze this fake news. Regarding the social media posts, we have a segment of people who are affected by Kremlin propaganda. At first, they thought it was a virus created by NATO or the U.S. But the situation changed significantly when the Russian president spoke on Tv on March 25.
"Broadly speaking, however, Estonia's Russian-speaking population is as adequately informed as the Estonian-speaking population, and I would not overemphasize the issue of trolling and slippery news," he added.
The director general said that Russia's policy of division has not been very successful in Estonia, although there are a few individual people who very much want to contribute to it. "But to say that we have hundreds and thousands of accomplices among the Russian-speaking population — we don't," he added.
History as a propaganda tool
He specifically cited everything related to the treatment of history, noting that in Russia, history is not something studied at universities, but rather a part of Russian state propaganda.
"On one hand, an intent to engage Russians outside of Russia through their victory narrative," Sinisalu explained. "On the other hand, to justify their imperialistic ambitions and ideas. And those whose opinions oppose Russia's historical propaganda are immediately labeled fascists and Nazis."
As an important indicator from the previous year, Sinisalu took the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (MRP) and the secrecy surrounding it as an example that had been concealed for decades but now is praised and glorified instead.
"The MRP is now Russia's honor and pride," he said. "While previously denied, the MRP is now justified without any guilt whatsoever. All this affects the denial of the occupation and annexation of the Baltic states, where the liberation of those countries is talked about instead. Liberation from Nazism is something to be grateful for, but sadly the liberators never went home themselves."
Editor: Roberta Vaino