The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) has ordered telecomms companies to end broadcasting four Russian, plus one Belarusian, TV channels on Estonian territory, on the grounds that they had been disseminating Kremlin propaganda, in the run-up to Thursday's military attack on Ukraine.
The channels are RTR Planeta, NTV Mir (including NTV Mir Baltic), Belarus 24, Rossia 24 and TV Center International.
The TTJA highlighted that the named TV channels featured an announcement by the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on February 24 (Independence Day in Estonia, and a national holiday), which as a whole could be interpreted as justifying a military attack, incitement to same, or violating principles of international law, the authority announced.
As a result, the TTAJ announced that the channels have transgressed a bar on inciting the violation of laws, harmed the security of society, including the state's internal security, and endangered national security.
"Extraordinary times call for the making of decisions, and we find that the channels have exceeded the threshold. To avoid further harm to society's security and to protect the public interest ... action must be taken immediately," the TTJA's chief Kaur Kajak said.
The ban is valid for 12 months.
Until now, TTJA had been monitoring all Russian channels, but recently eight (RTR-Planeta, RTVI, Rossija 24, REN TV, NTV Mir and PBK) have come under closer scrutiny.
"Russian propaganda channels have been inciting hostility and carried propaganda and war propaganda," Kajak noted.
The difference between the current and previous situation is that the propaganda has a clear result, i.e. Thursday's large-scale attack on Ukraine, Kajak said.
Telecomms firm Telia announced early on Friday that some Russian TV channels would no longer be broadcast via its service.
"Pursuant to the situation, Telia will end broadcasting RTR Planeta, NTV Mir, Rossia 24 and TV Centre International (TVCI) from the night of February 25 to its TV service clients," Telia announced.
Elisa announced on Friday morning at 8.30 a.m. that broadcasting RTR Planeta, TVCi, Belarus 24 and NTV Mir will be banned.
The TTJA had on Thursday stated it would within the ensuing 24 hours be making a decision on the future of the channels' airing in Estonia.
Editor: Roberta Vaino