Russian state-controlled media portal Sputnik submitted a number of questions to the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) about a recent incident involving a conscript injuring himself with an AK4 battle rifle. The questions aim to establish a connection between the accident and supposed anti-Russian sentiment and discrimination in the Estonian military.
The conscript shot and critically injured himself with his AK4 battle rifle on Mar. 1 this year. The 7.62-caliber round did so much damage that he needed to be taken to Võru and later on to Tartu to be resuscitated. According to media reports, more than 12 liters of blood transfusions were necessary to save the man's life.
According to statements the conscript made to medical personnel, the police, and later on the EDF as well, he shot himself in the shoulder because he wanted what he referred to as "a cool gunshot scar." He did not take back this statement later on.
Sputnik's questions as submitted to the EDF refer to "sources" of the Kremlin-controlled portal that allegedly suggest the wound was a result of an escape attempt followed by the conscript getting arrested by military police.
Again referring to "sources," Sputnik asks whether or not it is true that the man injured himself because of what in Sputnik's question is referred to as an "abnormal atmosphere" that allegedly exists in the EDF's Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion, which the portal says affects Russian-speaking conscripts.
Sputnik also refers to "information" that the battalion's medics refuse medical help to all those soldiers that have "insufficient command of the state language," suggesting that there are EDF personnel who will not provide medical help to people who speak Russian rather than Estonian.
In its questions, Sputnik also suggests that Russian-speaking conscripts are routinely exposed to insults and bullying on the part of Estonian-speaking non-commissioned officers.
On top of there being no indication whatsoever that any of Sputnik's allegations are true, ERR's Estonian news reported on Thursday that the conscript in question is not actually Russian.
This latest move by Sputnik shows signs of the same approach used in Russian state media reports leading up to Estonia's Independence Day on Feb. 24, where it was suggested that Russian-speaking conscripts of the EDF's 1st Infantry Brigade are forced to sing songs that refer to the killing of "Russian traitors."
Maj. Arvo Jõesalu of the EDF told ERR's Estonian news on Thursday that the questions are yet another attempt of the state-controlled Russian media to drive a wedge between different groups of Estonians. Not a single one of Sputnik's suggestions had anything to do with reality, Jõesalu said.
Editor: Dario Cavegn