On Tuesday July 31, the journalist Oleg Samorodn wrote in the Eesti Päevaleht about a resolution adopted by the European Organization for Minorities, FUEN. The document prepared by the NGO Russian School in Estonia carried the idea that the Russians living in Estonia were being harassed. We have previously written examples of cases where a negative image of Estonia is being portrayed in Europe by local NGO’s. The last time we had a similar large propaganda attack was in September 2017 and before that in August.
How serious is this new incident? Let us take a closer look at what organizations are doing and how widespread is the propaganda message in the resolution.
What is FUEN?
The European Federation of Minorities FUEN brings together minorities from 33 European countries, keeping topics on the smaller ethnic groups in the forefront in the structures of the European Union and the UN. One of the most visible initiates of recent time is the Minority SafePack (the minority security package), which collected signatures in April to support legislative changes. (This part of the initiative on Estonia contains one-sided information and propagandistic phrases such as „Save our Children! Protect Russian language schools in Estonia!“) Each year a congress takes place, where a large number of resolutions are adopted. There are five organizations in FUEN where there are members from Estonia: The Association of Estonian Nationalities, the Estonian Germans Association, the Association of Estonian Byelorussians, the Russian Federation of Education and Charitable Association sin Estonia and the NGO Russian School in Estonia that initiated the resolution.
What is the resolution about?
On June 24, the FUEN Congress adopted a total of ten resolutions on national minorities in different countries. The part on Estonia uses known Kremlin propaganda phrases: „discrimination on a national basis“, „harassing citizenship requirements“, „education only in Estonian“ and „restriction of the use of the Russian language.“ It is not known if other Estonian organizations belonging to FUEN took part in the congress, participated in the voting and were agreeable to the wording. The word „resolution“ sounds meaningful but Propastop was unable to find examples where similar documents with such propagandistic overtures would realistically have had much of an impact on European policy-making.
What is the NGO Russian School in Estonia?
An overview of the NGO Russian School in Estonia can be read about in the analysis of Russian-related networks in Estonia. In Network 2 „guard activists“ where the Russian School in Estonia also belongs and who receives monetary support from Russian groups aimed at influencing the European processes on the basis of the Kremlin’s interests. For example, Mihhail Kõlvart and Yana Toom are prominent politicians in Estonia who are involved in the NGO. The resolution was initiated by Alisa Blintsova and Dmitri Suhhoroslov, who participated in the congress, whose activities have also been written about in the KAPO yearbook.
How widely has the propaganda message spread?
The resolution got some press in June, where a few Russian channels and Estonian propaganda websites announced it. The Eesti Päevaleht story was pushed by the website Baltija.eu. It has not received much response in the Russian language or foreign press throughout June or August. Consequently, the incident has not currently developed into a Propaganda attack. However, it can be assumed that the Kremlin’s attempts to blacken Estonia’s reputation through European organizations will continue.
Pictured: A screen shot from the FUEN homepage. NGO Russian School in Estonia picketing in front of the Stenbock House in 2013. Photo by Küllike Rooväli /Postimees / Scanpix