PPA investigating 'fake news' incidents directed at Ukrainian refugees

PPA eastern prefecture chief Tarvo Kruup.
PPA eastern prefecture chief Tarvo Kruup. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) have identified at least half-a-dozen instances of the online defamation of Ukrainian war refugees, with criminal cases launched regarding two of the incidents.

The claims have generally been made on social media and attempt to sow hatred and division in society by, for instance, claiming that Ukrainian arrivals fleeing the Russian invasion have been shoplifting or engaging in other anti-social activity.

Katri Raik (SDE), mayor of the eastern border town of Narva, which is largely Russian-speaking, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "Fortunately, the people of Narva are against this fake news. I really appreciated it when a woman said at a meeting that we would find out who wrote the fake news, put out the name of the culprit via the newspaper and punish them.

"It is not worth considering the people of Narva to be stupid or unable to understand what fake news is, though all the recent media research LINK shows that Russian people in Estonia are very social media-trusting," she went on.

The issue has not confined itself to social media or online environments, AK reported.

A recent incident involved an off-line, false-flag effort, PPA eastern prefecture chief Tarvo Kruup said.

This also took place in Narva.

Kruup said: "Some young people who were already familiar with the PPA beforehand, members of the local community, went to a store demanding free goods and presented themselves as Ukrainians."

"To top things off, they also desecrated the monument to [chess grandmaster] Paul Keres," Kruup added.

"When there is incitement to hatred and people are disturbed, then naturally, this must be prosecuted," he went on.

Another reported variant was almost the opposite of the above – the alleged assault on an adolescent in Sillamäe, also in Ida-Viru County, very likely never happened in the first place, AK reported.

The incident is one of those being investigated as a possible crime.

The PPA has already asked not only social media posts or comments that constitute hate speech in relation to the Ukraine war, but even entire social media groups, to be removed from the hosting platforms, on the grounds that such discourse that prevails in the relatively closed and one-dimensional world of social media may spread into the real world also, on the streets, in schools and at the workplace, Kruup said.

As of Thursday, over 22,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine have arrived in Estonia and remained in-country.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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