Estonia deprives itself of a chance to earn with the help of Russia: Baltic countries squeeze out Russian media
January 1, 2020,
Sputnik’s Estonian branch has ceased operations. Over the past few months, its employees have been getting pressured – at first they were blocked from receiving their legally earned salaries, and then they started getting threatened with criminal charges.
How will this affect the relations between Tallinn and Moscow? As you know, the satellites branches broadcasting in different countries are subdivisions of the Russian state media Russia Today. They operate in the Baltic countries – there are satellite branches in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The officialdom of these countries constantly harasses these publications and even denies them the right to be called media – according to Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian officials, the “satellites” are obedient instruments of the sinister “Kremlin propaganda” and are continuously pouring black poison into the brains of simple-minded inhabitants.
Meanwhile, even a cursory content analysis of the Baltic “satellites” suffices to show that there is no such thing going on. The “satellites” adequately cover what is happening in “their” countries. Their content differs little from what the local Russian-speaking Estonian and Latvian portals write. However, the authorities of the Baltic countries from the very beginning began to sculpt some propaganda monsters out of harmless “satellites”, declaring a “holy war” on them.
So, in March 2016, the “Sputnik Latvia” portal, which had opened just weeks before (in Russian and Latvian), received an official notification from Riga about the closure of the domain. According to an official letter from a domain registrar referring to a request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, “registering a domain name sputniknews.lv is a violation of the provisions of the EU Council regulation on restrictive measures in connection with a threat to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the actions of the Latvian authorities “a manifestation of plain censorship” and called on the OSCE representative on media freedom, as well as relevant international organizations, to give a principled assessment of the discriminatory actions directed against the Internet resource of the Sputnik agency in Latvia. These same international structures muttered something unintelligible in response – nobody stood up for “Sputnik”, which is branded as a “propaganda resource” in both the US and EU.
Vladimir Linderman, political activist in the Latvian opposition commented: “I don’t know what Ukraine has to do with it, and what difference that makes. The Latvian authorities simply slammed the Russian portal shut, because it is Russian. But “satellites” everywhere position themselves as “objective-civilized-European,” hoping that in this way they will deserve the approval of local elites. Vain dreams. No need to be civilized and objective, no one will appreciate it. It’s necessary to be rude, defiantly support the “fifth columns” in all hostile countries, then they will be afraid and respected.”
About this theme: Sputnik Estonia employees decide to quit due to threats. Zakharova threatened an “interesting answer” to Sputnik’s oppression in Estonia. Putin called the actions of the Estonian authorities an example of “amazing cynicism”
The disgraced portal resumed work at a new address, https://lv.sputniknews.ru/ A number of Russian-speaking journalists living in Latvia collaborate with this resource – for them, Sputnik has become a real salvation because the Russian press is dying out in the republic.
Another thing is that many do not at all seek to publicize the fact of such cooperation, because they fear troubles with the Latvian special services.
The Latvian security police have already detained the chief editor of Sputnik Latvia Valentin Rozhentsov in Riga – fortunately, not for long. Another Latvian citizen, Marat Kasem, who heads Sputnik Lithuania, openly admits that he is afraid to travel to his homeland, as he cannot exclude that he will be “received” right at the airport. In May, Kasem tried to visit Lithuania – intending to write about the local presidential election. But he was detained almost immediately after leaving the plane. Despite his having citizenship of one of the EU countries, they ordered Kasem to get out of Lithuania.