Reading the news may give the impression that the fighting on somes (social media) has succeeded. The Facebook group Estoners was closed last week. In mid January, Facebook ended the activities of hundreds of accounts, including spam accounts created by Estonian Sputnik employees, which distributed the materials of this propaganda publication. Twitter has closed a number of #ESTexitEU themed fake accounts.
However, the problem is not definitely fixed with the closures. Propastop found at least a dozen groups on Facebook, which still share berating material using Russian regime talking points, spreading Sputnik’s news and otherwise support Kremlin propaganda.
These groups show that they are not built on fake identities but on people who administer them using their own name and face. Unfortunately, these names and faces are related to either Kremlin funding, the pursuit of disturbing the social system in Estonia or activities that have been noted in Kapo’s yearbooks. In the summer, Propastop wrote a series of postings on networks involving Kremlin-related NGO’s, websites and activists. The same activists of these networks are the administrators of these groups.
Media businessperson, has been mentioned in the Security Police (KAPO) yearbook, is involved in provoking propaganda cases in Estonia. The most active group creator, he administers five groups with more than ten thousand followers.
Their groups are characterized by the fact that among suitable material (topics related to Tallinn, election material) they embed stories of propaganda from Sputnik and Baltnews as well as other Kremlin messages and biased historical visions among the material.
Mstislav Russakov and Alisa Blintsova
The key players in the network are the „Watch keeping activists“, who are trying to spread inaccurate messages’ about Estonia, such as, we are harassing Russians in Estonia or violating their human rights. They both have given false and biased information about Estonia in the propaganda media. They are administrators of nearly 1500 members in three groups, together with Oleg Nazmutdinov and the owner of Baltnews, Aleksandr Kornilov.
In the groups, they share the materials and information about the activities of Kremlin-minded individuals from Latvia and Lithuania. In other respects, the pattern is the same: the material is embedded with propaganda information from Sputnik, Baltnews as well as other Kremlin propaganda material. An active spreader of material is for example Marina Pavlenko, an Estonian employee of Sputnik.
Allan Hantsom ja Sergei Tshaulin
Allan Hantsom is the leading organizer for the „peace march“ and the immortal battalion, the leading figure for the Russian language portal rodina.ee and joint author of Baltnews. Sergei Chaulin is an active protest participant, a member of the kremlin- supported movement Night Watch. Both men are noted in the KAPO yearbook and belong to the „Protesters“ Network. They administer four groups with roughly seven hundred members.
In the groups concentrating on WWII topics, they fly red flags and wear St George ribbons; the Red Army is seen as a liberator. Sputnik, Baltnews and other Kremlin propaganda channel leaflets are distributed.
Kremlin-minded groups integrate on Facebook
Previously, networks related to Russia in Estonia could be described as independent, where everyone dealt in their own corner and topics. On Facebook however, these networks intertwine into a single anti-Estonian information source. Together with several other groups that did not fit into the overview, each other’s material in intermixed. This creates a wider audience for spreading hostile information about Estonia on somes (Social media).
Pictures: screenshots from the group headers