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Russian state media compares Estonia 200 ad campaign to apartheid

Ads that appeared at Tallinn's busy central Hobujaama tram stop early on Monday morning. 7 January 2018.
Ads that appeared at Tallinn's busy central Hobujaama tram stop early on Monday morning. 7 January 2018. Source: ERR

The ad campaign organised by Estonia 200 earlier this week did not go unnoticed by Russian media, the pro-Kremlin part of which drew a comparison between the campaign and apartheid, daily Postimees writes.

Russian opposition media, meanwhile, included an explanation in news covering the controversial campaign. For instance, independent Russian TV channel Dozhd explained the idea behind the ads, which divided each side of Central Tallinn's Hobujaama tram stop in half with ads reading "Here only Estonians" and "Here only Russians." Citing Postimees and Estonia 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas, Dozhd reported that the campaign attempted to draw attention to the division in Estonian society.

The news was reflected to a much greater extent by pro-Kremlin media, however, which for years has reported on the alleged discrimination of the Baltics' Russian-speaking population, the Estonian daily wrote.

Among the headlines to appear on the online sites of Zvezda, Russia Today and Rossiya TV were, "Scandals in Estonia: Posters appear on streets 'Here only Russians,'" "Estonian party claims responsibility for divisive posters," and "The right side of Estonia: Will the division of people into Estonians and Russians solve the state's problems."

"This is something that has not been seen in the modern world, and indeed in the world for a long time — perhaps since the days of apartheid in South Africa," Rossiya TV news programme Vesti reported, adding that in civilised countries, such actions would prompt a criminal investigation, as the campaign was a call for interethnic hatred in its purest form.

Controversial ads up for around 24 hours

Early on Monday morning, commuters in Central Tallinn were met with the sight of a series of bold, bilingual advertisements dividing each side of the central Hobujaama tram stop in half, with the ads on the left, in blue, stating "Here only Estonians" and the ads on the right, in red, stating "Here only Russians." By Tuesday morning, the controversial ads had been replaced — by ads for Estonia 200.

Speaking at a press conference held later on Tuesday morning, Estonia 200 chairwoman Kristina Kallas explained that her party's goal was to use the ads to draw attention to "segregation" in Estonian society, adding that it did not consider the ad campaign unethical.

Appearing on Vikerraadio's news broadcast Uudis+ that day, Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE) expressed concern that photos taken of Monday's posters may be used against Estonia for years in the Russian media.

"Considering how quickly the ads spread via Sputnik channels last night, I'm concerned that we may have hurt ourselves, and shot ourselves in the foot," she said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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