PPA issued 12 fines over pro-Russian social media posts this year so far

Displaying a St. George's ribbon publicly in Estonia is forbidden by law.
Displaying a St. George's ribbon publicly in Estonia is forbidden by law. Source: ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) have imposed 51 fines so far this year, on those who displayed pro-Russian war symbols or justified in some other way Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Twelve of the fines related to infringements via social media.

Fines for publicly displaying support of Russia's invasion can be as high as €1,200, while the average level is €400.

PPA spokesperson Maarja Punak told ERR that many of the infringements were reported to them, with many incidents concerning Aivo Peterson, who ran for the United Left Party (EÜVP) and came close to winning a Riigikogu seat in Ida-Viru County – after a campaign which included broadcasting videos from the occupied Donbas region.

"Just with Aivo Peterson along, I don't think there's been a week where I haven't received some kind of report relating to him," Punak said.

"Those informing us are simply different people who flag up something inappropriate which has been is going on somewhere, and once again," she went on.

The PPA says it gets around 15 reports per week relating to social media posts justifying Russia's war or seeming to glorify it. One of the commonest incidents concern displaying the black-orange St. George's ribbon (pictured), a pro-Russian symbol dating to the Tsarist era.

If no actual offense has been committed, the PPA may nonetheless contact the individual to tell them that they have acted in an inappropriate way.

In the case of repeated incidents, the PPA may visit the individual in person, which is where most cases are resolved; beyond that, fines are necessary.

Andres Lember, chief of anti-propaganda blog Propastop, told ERR that social media misinformation is a common tool of war propaganda for the Kremlin, including attempts to spread misinformation via social media groups and using fake or anonymous accounts often en masse.

Misguided individuals may also place pro-Russian posts online on their own, legitimate accounts, often descending into slanging matches in comments sections.

Lember cautioned against engaging with such persons online, in an effort to prove them wrong. "The wrestling with a pig in mud effect can ensue. Both parties get muddy, but it is the pig who feels happy," Lember said.

Not all posts are misinformation as such, he added. A recent, graphic video of an atrocity committed by Russian forces and posts of that nature can actually work in the Kremlin's favor, Lember said, as it sows fear and dread about Russian forces' supposed power.

There are more appropriate ways of highlighting Russian war crimes, he added, including by posting images of the deceased from the recent incident, but in life, and alongside images of the Ukrainian flag, for instance.

Propastop is staffed by members of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) and has an English-language page also.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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