Propaganda in September


In the month of September, there were several propaganda stories on the concept of Russo phobia, controlling facts, the spread of important false news in newspapers as well as Estonian Russian speaking residents’ reactions to blatant lies in Russian propaganda media.

Estonian Russian speaking residents’ reactions to Russian propaganda media.

Journalist Anastassia Mironova’s September report in stated; „ they only talk about food“, referring to Russian speaking residents in Estonia and Latvia. The editor of the Russian language rus.postimees, Marianna Tarassenko countered in her article with „ Russians in Pribaltika: Bald? Starving? Toothless? Old fashioned? “, greatly criticizing the story. This is a small example how Estonian Russian speaking people react to false articles on themselves in the Russian media. The Russian language section of Propastop has written about this extensively.

Two approaches to Russo phobia

Two stories on Russo phobia appeared in the Estonian media in September.

Postimees published Artemi Troitski’s editorial, where the author analyzes the emergence of the concept of Russo phobia.

He writes: Namely, the word „anti-Soviet“ is related to the Soviet authorities, that is to say, the state order. More specifically communist totalitarianism and its corresponding ideology. This is why it did not even occur to my friends or me that when we were called „anti-Soviet minded elements“ that we would be offended – on the contrary, we wore that title proudly! The term „Russophobe „has a very different inference: nationalistic, cultural, ethnic. It marks the hatred and contempt of all things Russian, turning our backs to not only Russian institutions but also to Russian s themselves.

Heiki Suurkask wrote on the same topic in Eesti Päevaleht, he said: „During the Soviet era, it was mandatory to follow only one ideology. If you did not do this or were of the wrong social thinking, you would automatically become an „enemy of the people“. The propaganda of that time masterfully invented all sorts of labels that the media used to brand so-called wrong people. One of these labels is „Russophobe“ although this was only recently brought to usage during Putin’s Russia. This is an attempt to stifle Russia’s aggressive, ideology of hatred through the permeation of criticism of foreign and internal politics, openly declaring somebody an enemy of Russia, so as to totally crush them.

Control of facts

The co-operation of the Estonian Debate society as well as Delfi and Eesti Päevaleht initiated Control of Facts in September that analyzes current political claims right up until the upcoming local government council elections.

Propastop acknowledges the undertaking and hopes, that the initiative remains active in some form after the elections and helps to increase the credibility of the press. In September, Raul Rebane also wrote in his editorial of the urgency of controlling the facts in the media.

He discussed the example of a Tallinn TV’s program, where Mati Hint expostulated against Rail Baltica with the facts from an argument, that 17 billion cubic meters of sand and gravel are needed for the construction of the route. He writes that it is kilometer times kilometer, times kilometer, times 17 and there is not enough gravel in Estonia. It will have to be purchased from Latvia and Lithuania and brought in via the Pärnu port etc. This is all very bad in that nature and all types of things will be threatened and wasted. The commentator and guests do not react, nor do the viewers via Facebook because the facts of the argument were incorrect by one thousand (1000!) times. The construction materials for the Rail Baltica route, assuming the given figures, is 15 million cubic meters of sand and gravel.

French President, Macron’s role in journalism.

Delfi released a story in September based on the press conference held after the Digital Summit of European Union Heads of Government, where Emmanuel Macron answered questions on possible Russian cyber attacks, he said, that a significant part of cyber security is defence against propaganda attacks. The best defence against this type of attack is strong press stated Macron. The President welcomed the French journalists in the hall, who have been very successful and gained much ground in their fight against false news.  „Journalists are the foremost regulators of propaganda, you can not be replaced. The press is the base upon which any normal democracy works“ emphasized Macron.

Facebook fighting against false news

In September, several stories emerged about how a social media channel analyzed Russian influence in their network and made their own conclusions as well as taking the first steps to stop this activity. Delfi wrote: „ Facebook announced on Wednesday that apparently Russian led operations cost $100,000. over two years for thousands of US targeted ads promoting disruptive social and political messages.

Facebook announced that 3,000 ads and 470 „non-authorized“ accounts and web pages spread polarizing views on topics such as immigration, race and homosexual rights, reported Reuters. Another $50,000. was apparently spent by Russians on 2,200 „potentially politically related“ ads, according to Facebook. Even if no laws were violated, 470 accounts and web pages associated with ads were in violation of the Facebook Authenticity Requirements and were consequently removed.

Mihkail Lotman’s creation of oppositions

Lotman writes an opinion piece in Postimees: „ In connection to the 2008 war in Georgia, it was necessary to show that it was not just a military or even a political and ideological conflict but a confrontation of civilizations. Possibly it turned out that Georgia is an age-old enemy, who has been planning Russo phobic activities for many centuries, consequently so as not to waste good ideas, they used those same stereotypes recently against Poland.

When the Ukrainian crisis arose, Georgia was forgotten and the same structure system was re-addressed to fit Ukraine. It is not only the attitude or brutality of the Kremlin ideologists but a deliberate choice: the enemy must be recognizable. The same signs, the same semantic construction but completely different experts. This is not just specifics related to Russia; we see such strategies in different cultures, from antiquity to postmodernism. „