A new narrative on the Russian propaganda front lines


Propastop has gathered Russian propaganda speaking points aimed against Estonia and has used them to make up a propagandabingo game. If up to now bingo has had eight propaganda claims, then the last month has given us reason to upgrade the game, since the Russian speaking points have fixed a new narrative – Which is that the independent Republic of Estonia will end in 2020.

Upon closer inspection, it is clear that this propaganda claim is based on two premises, through which the Russian media confirms the end of Estonia as a nation. The first claim is that the Euro assistance grants are such a large part of the Estonian national budget in that when the funds end in 2020 the Estonian economy will collapse.

The second is Estonia’s negative birth rate, due to which the Estonians will simply die out.

The idea of loss of Euro grants is usually accompanied by the claim that the influence of Russia economically will grow significantly after the end of Euro grants as well as well known politicians who assisted in the re-independence of Estonia will die of old age and the new generation is not as opposed to Russia as was the older generation.

Just for the record, the percentage of funds from the European Union in the Estonian budget is under 10% and that is mostly in investments. As for our birthrate, it was for the first time over several years gaining at 0.14% in 2016. At the same time, yes the Russian birthrate is positive but the growth rate has been declining in the last years – it was at 0.22% in 2014, 0.19% in 2015 and down to 0.17% in 2016.

Estonian and Russian economic relations are relatively weak, as well as new markets have been sought out after the drop in export amounts due to the bronze soldier night events. For example, the export trade with Russia in May of 2017 was 7%, which fell below that of Finland, Sweden and even Latvia.

Estonian „economic problems and a poor standard of living“ was a theme this year in February when in his blog, the leader of the Russian opposition, Aleksei Navalny discussed the differences in Estonian and Russian GDP, comparing mid salaries and pensions, where comparable figures in Estonia are at least double of that in Russian examples.

How are new propaganda claims being circulated?

In the June number of Diplomaatia, Argo Ideon wrote: „… official Moscow rhetoric cannot comprehend the idea that western integrated Estonia could be a prosperous nation. With the choices of post Soviet Estonia having been so successful, it comparatively demonstrates many of Russia’s own choices as having been mistakes. Estonia must be a vile, ill-fated and vicious nation in the view of the Kremlin and if Estonia does not appear that way, then what? Ukraine leaving the influence sphere of Moscow is a success story? No, Moscow cannot allow that. Estonia will remain in the cross hairs of Moscow propaganda for a long time to come. “

New claims in the Russian media have become livelier. The following are some examples that have already occurred:

In June 2017 Regnum.ru published in its pseudo analytical centre „OSTKRAFT“factual material backed news, that aside from the analysis of NATO and Baltic relations states „ the provocation of Russian-opposed hysteria and as if a military interventional risk existed is hiding the failure of economic integration between the Baltics and the European Union – the economies of these nations can only survive through disguised subsidies of the EU budget.

Shortly after the European Union grants end in 2020, there will be a dramatic budget crisis, which will very probably lead to social clashes. This is the reason for extremely well thought out and hugely artificial claims that there is a military threat from Russia, it is so that due to lessening grants they can guarantee a continued cash flow from the military structure of the Atlantic treaty.

Still even those measures cannot resolve the main question for the Baltics- namely economic problems; poverty and a poor birthrate, this is something that no propaganda can hide as well as there is a regular escaping of its citizens to more developed areas in the world, including Russia. The continual lessening of the population of the native people of the Baltics and their complete extinction is their nation’s real threat. »

The theme was discussed in July on the TV channel TVC’s program „ the right to speak“. The heading of the show was „ Baltics:  fears and dreams“ The Russian talk show discussed in its own format, why do the Baltic nations want to be part of the European Union when they had such a good life as part of the Soviet Union. The show came back to the poor economic plight of the Baltics, which they hope to improve under the European Union.

Member of the council of the Russian federation, Sergei Rõbakov stated on the show that: „The Russian empire is cardinally different from other empires such as the Austrian-Hungarian empire. That empire had countries as members; I stress countries that already had their own independent nations. The Estonian nation, the Latvian nation, the Lithuanian nation (The Grand Duchy of Lithuania is something very different), or the Ukrainian nation have never existed in history. These re-formed states had to prove once again the right to exist.

The underlying myth of these states is their constant confrontation with Russia. As long as they can prove their right to exist, their need for the world, is to be in confrontation with Russia, the European Union will continue using these nations as buffer states.“ In February 2017 the Baltic business TV station Tvzvezda, discussed the downfall of the Baltic nations, the significant lessening of transit shipping, large amount of work shortage and the appearance of poverty as well as the rise of prices but not a raise in salaries.

The story ends with todays posted narrative, where the question on what will become of the Baltics in 2020, when European funds will end is still in the air.

In September 2016, Rubaltic.ru wrote the heading „Expert: 2020 will be a dramatic change for the Baltics“, it was also noted that „ Scientists predict the demographic collapse of the Baltic states in 2020, after which there will be a power struggle. This means Latvia and Lithuania will have to find new geopolitical partners. A nuance was added – the founders of the re-independence of the Baltics will be gone from politics and the new generation of politicians have no arguments with Russia. The scientists agreed with the idea that Latvia and Lithuania will be turning to Russia as a partner. They also thought that Belorussia would also be taking this path.

In December of the same year, Polit Express had an article with the heading „ The beginning of the end: what will happen to the Baltics if Russia stops transit shipping“, the author Aleksandr Šamšiev thought that the Baltic nations may plead that Russia does not close the transit highways. „ This would demand a large flexibility, pricing overview and Russian political change from the Baltics although the incompetent leadership and failure to asses the hopeless situation has already made the Baltics a loser. “

These are a few of the examples of the new spread of propaganda claims. In the estimate of Propastop, this narrative is meant more for internal national use, since the Russian people living in the Baltics experience a very different lifestyle. The phrase „ It was better in the Soviet Union „is popular only to people living in Russia.  The battle line of Russian propaganda new narratives has had different developments. The editors of Propastop suggest keeping an eye on the theme, which is slowly gathering popularity „the Baltics owing Russia. “ This is being noticed on the edge and their example of factories, harbours and other infrastructures having been established by the Soviet Union is being strongly brought forth.

Photo: Julian K./Flickr/CC