EKRE election candidate admits fake social media accounts, article pen name ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Ruuben Kaalep (pictured) says the border treaty will not be up for ratification at the Riigikogu, as per a coalition agreement. Enn Eesmaa, chair of the foreign affairs committee, says it is news to him. Source: (Private collection)

Head of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) youth wing Ruuben Kaalep has admitted that both he and members of his party have knowingly posted in social media under false names, with Mr Kaalep even getting two opinion pieces published in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) under a pseudonym.

According to an article in daily Postimees on Wednesday, dozens of fake accounts have been used by those connected with EKRE and the ''Blue Awakening'' organisation, to post comments on social media.

Mr Kaalep had additionally written two opinion pieces which got published by EPL under the nom de plume of ''Bert Valteri''. EPL has reportedly acknowledged the oversight and removed the offending pieces from its website.

For his part, Mr Kaalep said that in what he sees as a deepening censorship in favour of of a ''liberal-democratic'' group-think, creating false social media and other accounts is a crucial means of ensuring freedom of expression.

Long-standing practice

''There is nothing repellent or underhand about anonymity or the use of pseudonyms,'' Mr Kaalep said.

''This is an ancient practice which has simply reappeared online,'' he continued.

''When it is hard for people to voice their opinion under their own name, that person will inevitably grow to be dependent on the beliefs of acquaintances, employers, authorities or investigative journalism [when publishing their opinions],'' Mr Kaalep averred.

However, Mr Kaalep said he himself was unafraid to publicly state his views, which he says are dissident, and had created the ''Bert Valteri'' account primarily as an experiment and to air philosophical reflections.

He also noted that in the run-up to the 2017 local government elections, EKRE and Blue Awakening had organised a social media campaign which was the warm up to larger scale activities.

An attack on this mode of communication constitutes an attack on the freedom of speech of those who make use of it, he also argued.

Ruuben Kaalep is listed in the number two spot in EKRE's Tartu City electoral list, and tenth on the overall EKRE list.

A comment mentioning EKRE and appearing under a video on social media on Sunday, where the candidacy of Jaanus Karilaid was endorsed by Haapsalu Mayor Urmas Sukles was reported to the police by the latter as constituting a death threat.

''Sukles. Note that if EKRE wins the election, your kind of rats will be summarily shot on the spot,'' the comment had reportedly read.

The Propastop anti-fake news blog has recently investigated various fake social media accounts related to the #ESTexitEU hashtag and the ''Estoners'' social media page. A number of such accounts have been closed down as a result, the site reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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