On July 11. the monitoring robot Propamon reported an alarm, that the number of stories concerning Estonia in the Russian media was again very high. Articles that were quoting statements from Estonian Forces, Colonel Riho Ühtegi in the Politico web-magazine, provided a significant part of the days reporting. The stories quoted Ühtegi’s thoughts that Russian soldiers might reach Tallinn quite fast in the event of an armed conflict but after that, they will also die in Tallinn.
Ironic comments from members of the State Duma to Ühtegi’s words contributed to the increased number of articles.
For example, spokesperson Irian Jarovaja called the quotation as a Russo phobic reflex. The Chairman of the Defence Committee, Vladimir Šamanov considered the Colonel crazy, while the first deputy of the CIS Committee, Konstantin Zatulin mentioned that weak Estonia did not have the ability or power to carry out Ühtegi’s words.
Ühtegi’s words drew attention in Estonia as well, Yana Toom, Marianne Mikko, Raivo Aeg and others, were interviewed and gave comments. The different views expressed are summarized in the Õhtuleht article. Assuredly, the story in Politico gained attention elsewhere in the world as well.
Why was such an article in Politico at this time? Erkki Bahovski associates it with the NATO summit. On July 15. on the Kuku Radio show Keskpäevatunnis (starting from 14 minutes into the program) Marek Strandberg, Ainar Ruussaar and Priit Hõbemägi spoke about the newspaper Politico’s media event causing article’s author and PR individual Molly McKew’s background. An opinion was expressed that the article recognizing our defence capabilities was initiated by Estonia itself. If so, then it can be assumed that the consequent reaction to Ühtegi’s words was also planned or nevertheless an unwanted co-phenomenon.
Propastop is noticing a pattern where regularly after about a month’s time the Russian media starts stirring on the words of an Estonian politician or official. The sentences that cause irritation come from Western media outlets but gain repercussions in the Russian media.
– On April 30, Sven Mikser’s statement that we will be talking to Russia from a position of strength.
– On June 6, a quote from Toomas Hendrik Ilves that an attack on Estonia could cost Russia; Petersburg, Omsk and Tomsk.
– July 2, Sven Mikser’s argument that Estonia is demanding the completion of Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction. Aleksei Puškov, the Chairman of the International Relations Committee of the State Duma ironically stated, that Estonia has not the ability to demand anything from Russia.
– On 11.June it was the turn of Colonel Riho Ühtegi’s words.
All the stories can be found on the Propamon webpage, by searching the news on that date.
In any case, Russia is paying a lot of attention to the words of Estonian officials and trying to leverage comments out of context. So far, such media events have lasted for a month but more recently, they are happening every other week. With this frequency, we can expect the next propaganda incident to take place, by the latest at the beginning of August.
In addition, read Propastop’s postings, from the last couple of years that compare different estimates on the time when the conquerors arrived in Tallinn.
Pictures: screenshots of the articles cited in the story.