The spy scandal that filled the Estonian media for a week did not get much coverage internationally. There were a few press releases in English in the western media and the Russian media’s coverage being minimal with a more of a neutral take on it.
The majority of articles published in the western media are based on an Associated Press’s Helsinki reporter. This story was shared by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, as well as the Star Tribune. The article talks about the background of the men and quotes from the prosecutor and Commander of the Defence Forces. The details explain that Metsava spoke fluent Russian and according to Delfi, Pyotr Volin served in the Soviet Army. The Warsaw institute’s article talks more about the Russian background of the men, bringing out that the passing on of the information was possible due to their Soviet era contacts. It is brought out separately that the contact was probably made through Volin, who worked in the KGB border guard during the Soviet era. Radio Free Europe published an article summary on the information provided by AP, Delfi and Baltija.eu portals.
The Russian online monitoring robot Propamon found 12 reports on the spying incident, which were divided into three incidents the following days.
The written stories were fairly neutral and contained information from Estonian media channels. The Director of the Security Police KAPO, the Prime Minister and the Commander of the Defence Forces were quoted. The stories featured the backgrounds of both suspects and any currently known details.
One news story highlighted Metsavas „patriotic“ teachings to Estonian young people and posts criticizing Russia and its media in his social media account. The source of this information is indicated as Sputnik Estonia.
The most ridiculous story was published in the online edition of Eurasia Daily and was titled „ The Estonian Hurrah-patriot major Metsavas turned out to be an agent of GRU“. In the story, the conflict that Metsavas had with the pro-Russian head of the Mei Day Russian pop rock group was added to the quotations of the Chief Prosecutor and the Commander of the Defence Forces as well as Metsavas’ performance on the ETV show „ Citizens of the Republic“. The online edition of Eurasia Daily is a channel that mediates to a significant extent Baltnews Estonia materials.
While editions behind our eastern border were, modest and fairly neutral, then Russian propaganda media in Estonia was anything but modest. They have been written about in Postimees for a long time. Propastop does not consider it necessary to pay much attention to these reports, as none of these stories found support in the media network of Russia.
Overall, the subdued coverage in the Russian media can be attributed to the fact that the exposed spies were acting in Russia’s interests. Our eastern neighbour’s media has similarly kept a low profile in reporting previous arrests of spies and only showed some activity in 2017 when they labeled the caught spy as an „innocent youth“.