Center Party forbids MPs from engaging with Russia's Sputnik
The leadership of Estonia's coalition Center Party on Wednesday decided to forbid members of its parliamentary group from giving interviews to Russian propaganda channel Sputnik.
"This was the wish and request of the prime minister," Olga Ivanova, MP and member of the Center Party's leadership, told BNS.
The issue arose on Tuesday when Ivanova gave an interview to Sputnik at the Bronze Soldier statue in the Defence Forces Cemetery of Tallinn as mostly Russian-speaking residents laid flowers at the monument to celebrate Victory Day in line with the tradition of the former Soviet Union and now Russia.
Asked by BNS about her actions in a similar situation in the future, Ivanova said that "presumably" she will not give any more interviews to Sputnik. "You have not seen my interview in the Sputnik portal now, have you," she noted.
At the same time, she also criticized Jüri Ratas, prime minister and chairman of the Center Party, for insufficient communication with party members, with whom no earlier agreement regarding communication with Sputnik had been made.
"This is the problem," she noted. "When the question arose with [Minister of Education and Research] Mailis Reps, we had a brief discussion about it in the group. The prime minister emphasized that members of the government would not give interviews [to Sputnik]. There was no talk of whether other members of the party, members of the parliamentary group, members of the group of Tallinn City Council or members of other Estonian cities and municipalities were allowed to give interviews to Sputnik."
Ivanova also noted that they also lacked a consensus in the group regarding the matter.
"This is what I told Jüri [Ratas] yesterday when he called me, that why do we need to assume something?" she continued. "He just needs to speak with us! Maybe if I had gone [to the Bronze Soldier statue] and we had had a silent agreement by that time that I wuld not give an interview to Sputnik then I would not have done so."
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Tuesday condemned fellow party member Ivanova's interview to Sputnik. "Lately, hostile propaganda and persuasion against democratic societies has intensified and we can see signs of this all across the world," he said. "Sputnik is not independent media, but a propaganda tool which does not follow good journalistic practice but publishes forwarded messages, often in part or in a biased way. The European Parliament has called Sputnik a 'pseudo-agency' in its resolution.
"I have repeatedly emphasized that it is exactly for these reasons that members of the government or state institutions do not give interviews to Sputnik," he explained. "Today, I forwarded my message to MP Olga Ivanova as well."
Editor: Aili Vahtla