Maarjamägi, military planes and sprats


At the beginning of January, we wrote about article directing in the Russian media, which gave the readers an erroneous impression that the Maarjamäe complex was to be demolished. At that time, we promised to follow the development of the subject.

Today, two weeks later, we can say that the incident has not developed into a prolonged propaganda topic or a systematic attack. Stories about Maarjamäe in the Russian media were limited to one weekend. Of course, this does not mean that the topic is off their agenda, with spring and the May holidays approaching; all sorts of allegations concerning Soviet monuments are expected. For example, we noticed an article, which tried to show the City hall of Tallinn as a Soviet monument.

However, the Maarjamäe topic was still continued in the Estonian media, the worth of the topic was discussed in several editorials.

In order to give the right proportions to the Maarjamäe media storm, we decided to give an overview of what the Russian news media wrote about Estonia in the course of the month.

Between December 18, 2017 and January 18, 2018, we found 204 stories from our eastern neighbour’s media that mentioned Estonia. There were 17 mentions or 8% of the monthly total that dealt with the demolishing of Maarjamäe, which is quite a lot for a single topic.

The majority of stories were military related news. In this area, we found 56 stories during the month. The USA jet fighters and B-52 bombers as well as the Danish allied units received the most coverage. (We searched for one example on each topic cited) As about a third of all the articles concerned the military, it can be said that Estonia has a front line reputation in the Russian as well as the Western media.

There were 47 articles on the economy during the month, with the most coverage being given to an Estonian company’s sprat conserves being allowed back into the Russian marketplace. Sprats is the keyword that most ties the Russian media with the Estonian economy, namely they believe that there is nothing else in the Baltic nations to offer Russia. Like always there are plenty of stories that still show a propagandistic perspective, namely that Estonia is doing very poorly economically and demographically.

The remaining 86 stories touched upon all sorts of other events: Christmas, the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister, the Estonian President’s plan to temporarily move to Narva. A noteworthy item was the Putin parody on the ETV+ New Years day program.

A new topic, that the Propastop volunteers noted on the propaganda portals Rubaltic and Izvestija, was that the current Estonian government is looking for warmer relations with our eastern neighbour. It is still too early to say whether there will be emerging any new narrative from the Kremlin media machine on any of these articles.

Pictures: Propastop home page collage (photos Troy David Johnston, Airman Magazine, jenny downing, all Flickr/CC); screen shots from referred news that was posted.