A planned VAT hike on media publications comes exactly at a time when the Russian Federation is pumping funds into its own media and propaganda efforts, anti-misinformation website Propastop reports.
Priit Hõbemägi, editor-in-chief of Postimees, said that the planned VAT increase on the media: "Comes at a time when Russia is investing more and more money in influencing the mindset of people in Estonian with its propaganda, fake news and by other methods; but it is the media that plays an important role in identifying, refuting, or exposing these things."
By way of example, Propastop reports, days before the decision to increase the VAT on the media in Estonia, a Kremlin-affiliated internet institute announced it would be distributing 20 billion rubles (around €220 million) in grants to creators of "patriotic content" in 2023 alone.
The internet organization, the IRI, includes on its panel the deputy head of the Russian president' office, the Duma's culture committee chair, and, perhaps most familiar to readers in English, Margarita Simonyan, Editor-in-Chief of English-language pro-Kremlin news portal RT, Postimees reports, while the inevitable complex web of personal relations linked to major energy companies and organizations can be traced through in relation to this body as well.
The Estonian government plans to hike VAT on the media from its current rate of 5 percent, to 9 percent.
Propastop is fully staffed by volunteers from the Defense League (Kaitseliit).
Editor: Andrew Whyte