Propastop has been following how an incident involving child protection became a distorted news item on Estonian Russophobia in the Russian media.
The story began on June 11. when an Estonian Children’s aid worker had Isabella Mihhailova of Mustamäe, Tallinn removed from her parents and given to a children’s aid care facility for custody until October. This was a result of the family’s poor living conditions, which have been under constant review and not changed over an eight-year period.
The parents are Russian citizens residing in Estonia and apparently, this is the reason they contacted the Russian embassy in Estonia for assistance. Under unknown circumstances, the parents were in contact with Violetta Volkovaga, a lawyer residing in Russia who became famous a few years back when she defended members of the band Pussy Riot in court. Volkova put out an alarming notice via Twitter on June 12. that the child of Russian citizens had been taken from them and the parents are allowed only 15 minutes a day to see her.
The first wave of reports in the media
The Russian news was full of reports on June 15. stating how Russian parents had their child removed due to baseless accusations of poor living conditions, while the real reason was that the parents had planned to move to Russia with their child. The main spokesperson of this wrongfully presented view was Volkova whose commentaries were the basis of the story. Looking over the news of that day it is clear that journalists were not interested in explaining the facts, instead they were going along with emotional one-sided accusations. The father gave a statement in the news that same the evening, where his words add more raw emotion to the evolving story.
On June 16. the lawyer creates the following theme on her Twitter account #ВЕРНИТЕИЗАБЕЛЛУ. This spreads and a theme-based blog is started to follow the development of the case. Consequently, within two days, a childcare case becomes a media event in Russia proving that Estonian Russophobic idiots for the sake of persecuting Russians will even stoop to stealing children from their homes.
On June 16. Estonian media brings on a second wave that opens up the theme to a more adequate factually based story. The Russian channel on ERR does a in-depth story where in addition to the father, the Social ministry and the child care worker make statements. On the same day Baltnews.ee, brings in the commentaries of Anastassia Raja, the head of the non for profit organization „Estonian Parents“ who accuses the lawyer of frivolous behaviour in stressing Russophobia. She also confirms that she has been to the family’s apartment and it indeed needs major repairs and is not fit for a small child to live in.
Actually not a single Estonian station refutes the claims of the first wave as if the removal of the child was due to her parents’ nationality. Even though the second wave brings forward the actual reason for the child’s removal from her home, it never reaches the Russian info forum. New stories reach a few individual Russian channels and it goes no further than that, nowhere close to the attention of the initial huge first wave of propaganda like news.
This incident shows how competent media manipulators can bring a lot of attention to their desired themes through accusations of Russophobia. Apparently, this was the main idea of their representative, to bring about a lot of attention to the family who suffered their child being removed from them allegedly due to them wanting to bring their family back to Russia. This typical Russophobic stereotype suited the Russian media and so this distorted story took on a life of its own.
We have previously shown how these type of falsehoods become big news in Russia. In February, we wrote about a story widely reported in Russia about a pregnant woman in Tallinn who was supposedly fired due to her speaking in Russian. Looking at the Estonian side reaction to the story confirms our previously stated notion that we are missing a national ombudsman type person who could officially challenge and quickly overturn such falsehoods. The given situation was such that it was just the officials who gave an overview commentary and only on the reasons for having handed the child over to childcare authorities. They did not respond to or overturn any of the propaganda like accusations or the media attacks on Estonia.
Propastop will make a statement on this theme right now: The removal of the child from her family was not caused by her parent’s citizenship, nationality or any plans of theirs to travel to Russia. The nation of Estonia is not Russo phobic and does not spite Russian nationals.
Photos: Screen shots from vesti.ru news and the twitter account of V. Volkova