Courtesy of Estonian Life May 7, 2016
Moscow’s propaganda in both languages.
Which is more damaging?
Tensions in the Estonian – Russian relationship have measurably heightened since Vladimir Putin assumed power in the Kremlin. Thus anti-Estonian propaganda in the government-controlled Russian media has expectedly intensified.
In spite of this, the Russian propaganda channels like Estonian-language Sputnik do not offer a tangible security risk to the state. That’s the conclusion of the annual report of Estonia’s security police, KAPO.
However one must consider this quote of former Estonian defence minsiter Sven Mikser that has appeared in Facebook and also on Sputnik’s own website: „We easily recognize Russian propaganda, if it’s served in Shirinosvki’s style (a Russian politician, an extreme nationalist, known for his outrageous statements. Ed.) and typically accuses Estonia of discrimination and worshiping Nazism. This type of primitive brainwashing is meant for domestic consumption. But propaganda directed at Estonians is rich in nuances and subtleties and hidden narrative that aims to destroy the moral fundamentals of regained independence. It’s difficult to sell the idea that the Union of Independent States (Russian lead coalition of countries) is better than the European Union and NATO. But a propaganda message that says Estonia did not bow to German Knights nor to Russian occupants and doesn’t have to show fealty to Americans will grab the attention of any Estonian. Estonia has its own values. Now that sort of story would find an audience, especially ultra-nationalists.”
Thus Russians know how to replay Estonia’s understanding of the effectiveness of Moscows efforts in attracting an Estonian audience. It’s a bold way for Sputnik to establish one’s credentials, albeit phiney, of credibility, objectivity, non-partisanship, unexpurgated opinion. Imagine using a well established Estonian politician, a former defence minister to be insightful as to how clever and insidious Russian propaganda can be.
It’s more important KAPO says, that the Russian language messages targetting the Estonian Russian-language community be closely monitored. In reference to the invasion of Ukraine and Russian belligerence in general , KAPO states that the international situation suffers from justified uneasiness and distrust. Russia sees it’s aggression aganist Ukraine as proper and reasonable. It thus feels confident in yielding an offensive stance especially in the direction of its formerly occupied countries such as Estonia.
Parlamentarian Eerik Niiles Kross states that Sputnik personnel do not deny Sputnik is a propaganda generator, or from Moscow’s perspective a counter-propaganda agency. It’s new, established in 2014. Sputnik’s director Dmitri Kisjelov is listed as a subject under sanctions by the European Union for supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
One of the first items to be broadcast by Sputnik stated that NATO has repeatedly accused Russia of sending tanks and personnel into Ukraine and Crimea without offering any evidence of this. Kross claims that Sputnik is not involved in journalism, nor does it produce news. Sputnik at best broadcasts half-truths that support Moscow’s policies. At worst it fabricates anti-western distortions says Kross.
Kross has described Sputnik’s reportage of an anti-migrant demonstartuion on January 30 in Finland and a counter-demonstration titled “Split Finland”. It was accompanied by a suitable photo which in fact was a celebratory gathering after a winning hockey game over Russia. Sputnik has claimed that Angela Merkel has given official recognition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, that France has accused Turkey of supporting ISIS, that the USA shot down the Malaysian passanger plane, that the Pope considers Vladimir Putin to be the only leader to protect Christianity, that the basic tool in forging the USA’s foreign policy is terrorism.
Sputnik is an integral part of hybrid warfare that exploits intellectual and innovative methods. Kross claims that one aspect of hybrid warfare is the use of a crucial Western principle, the rule of law, against itself. If one were to restrict the absolute freedoms that agencies such as Sputnik have, then one is accused of violating freedom of speech, censorship, accusation of blocking alternative viewpoints. In other words, Kross says that Sputnik demands freedom to lie and spread hate because it’s protected by the Westen freedom of the press standard.
Laas Leivat (To be continued.)