Report: Russian propagandists struggle with censorship in Baltics, Ukraine

Sputnik Estonia.
Sputnik Estonia. Source: ERR

Russian propagandists are expressing concerns over their material being censored and have published them in a report titled "Europe censored 2020: suppression of freedom of speech in the Baltic countries and Ukraine," according to the website that analyzes anti-Estonian influencing activity and is run by volunteers of Kaitseliit (Defense League).

The Russian-language portal RuBaltic recently published a news story on a virtual roundtable held in Moscow titled "Is there freedom of speech in Europe? The problem of censorship on the eastern periphery", which focused on alleged problems regarding freedom of speech and the persecution of media and journalists in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

A presentation on the report titled "Europe censored 2020: the suppression of freedom of speech in the Baltic countries and Ukraine" was given at the roundtable by editor-in-chief of RuBaltic Alexander Nosovich and Aleksey Ilyashevich, political observer for RuBaltic. Both men are known for their pro-Kremlin and anti-Baltics positions, according to Propastop.

The report lists cases of alleged suppression of freedom of speech, three of them observed in Lithuania, three in Latvia and two each in Ukraine and Estonia.

With regard to Estonia, the report pointed out sanctions imposed on the Russian propaganda channel Sputnik which forced the channel to terminate its operation in the country. The second so-called case concerned the pro-Kremlin Italian journalist and former member of the European Parliament Giulietto Chiesa having been denied entry to Estonia.

According to the report, ordinary tactics employed against media channels in Estonia and the Baltic states include expulsion from the country, intimidation and economic restrictions. Also highlighted with regard to Estonia were pro-Kremlin journalists having been listed in the annual review of the Internal Security Service (ISS), public officials and agencies refusing interviews, and accreditation to attend press events being denied to said journalists.

Propastop has also been mentioned in the report, both for compiling a list of pro-Kremlin propaganda channels in 2017 as well as for launching a popular initiative to see closed the local branches of Sputnik and Baltnews in 2019.

Sputnik Estonia's attempt to accuse the Estonian defense forces of discriminating against Russian-speaking conscripts, which was also covered by Propastop, has also been highlighted.

The report concludes with the authors claiming that the situation in Estonia is somewhat better compared with the other Baltic states; however, the overall impression is said to be greatly damaged by the closure of Sputnik.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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