Recently we wrote about a propaganda incident in which the Estonian Defence Forces was widely maligned in the Russian media as well as being wrongly accused of inter-ethnic violence.
Last week’s new propaganda case continued with the same narratives. In fact, the Russian publication, Sputnik sent the Defence Forces a letter, where it spoke about rumours that the soldier involved in a shooting incident was actually an ethnic Russian who was wounded during an attempt to escape from the military, which was caused due to bad ethnic relations in the military.
The Defence Forces did not wait for the letter to start a waive of accusations in the Kremlin media. Sputnik’s full written appeal was immediately sent to the Estonian media on March 15 (ERR, Postimees), where any doubts expressed therein were dismissed and Sputnik’s hidden goal – a desire to fuel conflict between the nations was quashed.
Sputnik, who was caught in its own propaganda web, attempted to turn the tables and re-attack the Defence Forces. On March 16th the channel released a follow up story to the foreign language media as well as the Russian new agency RIA Novost and commentaries from Baltnews accusing the „ Estonian Defence Forces of spreading fake news.“ To date it has gone no further.
Propastop considers the activities of the Defence Forces in this incident well organized and timely, with preventative steps to stop a possible larger propaganda attack. In addition, the response to Sputnik succeeded, because they did not try to communicate directly with the propaganda channel but instead published the provocative questions with explanations in trusted local media.
However, we would like to point out that responding to each individual letter or news clip in this way is not a sustainable solution. Sputnik and Baltnews type propaganda publications produce dozens of information units daily; confusing rumours, lies, conspiracy theories and pseudo expert analyzes. These are gathering sites, where the Kremlin media machine role is one of producing provocations, in the hope that they will spread to larger media outlets. A response to every single fake news item would mean that the Estonian authority agencies would be fighting endlessly against fake news.
The long-term solution by contrast is actually the recognition that Sputnik like publications are not the legitimate press although they try to present themselves as such. On the other hand, such sites should be formally assigned the status of hostile propaganda channels, which would give the right to establish rules on their content.
Propastop popularized the idea that such channels should be marked with a propaganda label that immediately advises the reader that the publication or site is not legitimate press. The solution is technically easy to arrange, we just need to implement it.
Also read the principles of communicating with propaganda channels.
Pictures: screenshots from Sputnik’s story, the same story but labeled as propaganda.