Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid’s planned visit to Moscow in mid-April to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin has generated great interest in the media of our Eastern neighbour. The Propamon monitoring robot showed that in the second half of last week there was a high level of news about Estonia in the Russian media, with the main part focusing on the visit.
Unfortunately, there are also texts that are aimed to spread Kremlin propaganda thoughts related to Estonia. On April 4th the news agency ria.ru published an article entitled „ The Estonian President called Russian-language school education a threat to culture,“ and lenta.ru wrote „ The Estonian President declared the Russian language, as a threat“. The news is based on Kaljulaid’s speech before the newly elected parliament.
The Kremlin propaganda channel Sputnik reacted with the speed of a rocket to the news from Lenta and RIA. A number of experts were found who began to ponder the concept of „the President’s words“ without bothering to check the accuracy of the quotes.
Propastop quickly determined that Kersti Kaljulaid had not said anything like that. In her speech to the new Parliament on the 4th of April, she touches on language issues but the correct quote as reported by ERR is the following: „There still exists poor language skills, because we still do not have a network of kindergartens and schools that only operate in Estonian, here are some of the key factors. It is not a privilege to not speak or understand the language of the place where you work, whether temporarily or permanently. The uninterrupted continuation of the bilingual school system is a threat to the survival of the Estonian Language and culture and does not increase the coherence of the Estonian State. We have one national language. It is our responsibility to make sure that all kindergarten children and teachers know our language.“
Not a single word about the Russian language or its threat. The propaganda media has distorted the meaning of the Estonian President’s statement and used translations that are out of context, which are better suited to the Kremlin’s propagandistic talking points.
Situations where propaganda messages have been passed on through deliberately wrong translations have occurred in the past. During last Christmas, there was fake news in the Russian media, as if a negative attitude towards the Republic of Estonia would be punished in Estonia. In 2016, however the words of the then Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas were translated from Russian deterrence into the headline „Intimidation of Russia must become the new norm“.
In the picture: screenshot of fake news. Note that the texts concerning Estonia are being broadcast on the lenta.ru portal with an imperialistic message under the heading „Former Soviet Union“.