In April, the main keywords were about propaganda, information warfare, influencing activities, the Security Police Board’s (KAPO) yearbook, President Kaljulaid’s visit to Russia, influencing the elections and the growing interest in monitoring activities.
Propastop was interested in topics from the Security Police Board’s annual report. The first concerned the active interest of Chinese intelligence attempting to recruit Estonian nationals and the second was attempts by Russian TV channels to get compromising material on Estonia.
Delfi wrote, referring to the KAPO yearbook, that Russian special services are not the only ones trying to recruit Estonian nationals. Chinese intelligence has been actively recruiting on the internet. „Public officials and professionals are being approached in the online environment and are being offered well-paid jobs and paid trips to foreign destinations. These Chinese companies realistically are not truly interested in paying thousands of Euros for some publicly available information. According to KAPO, the Chinese special services are behind most of these offers and often compiling summaries or analyzes that seem to be innocent but may lead to more serious cooperation where state secrets or other confidential information are being demanded.
ERR wrote about a case in KAPO’s yearbook, where Rossija1 journalists filmed the activities of central Tallinn’s Estonian Jehovah’s witness’ church and members with hidden cameras. They then produced a film ridiculing the congregation.
Postimees published a story about attempts by the St. Petersburg TV channel to bring forth material connecting Estonia to Nazi themed material. Russian journalists were not able to get into Estonia to produce the story; consequently, Oleg Bessedin, an individual familiar to Propastop readers conducted the interviews.
President Kaljulaid’s visit to Russia attracted a great deal of attention in Estonia, Russia and elsewhere in the world. Andrei Kuzitškin highlighted in Postimees the reaction of Lithuania and the influence of Russia on it. He wrote that the statement of the Lithuanian Foreign Minister was evaluated as evidence of the beginning of the collapse of the alliance of the Baltic nations. The portal Rambler published materials with the headline „Putin caused disputes between Estonia and Lithuania“.
The influencing of the elections was written by ERR, who published a story about the campaign launched by Finnish authorities prior to the elections, which warned people about fake news and false information and called upon people to use common sense. Postimees, wrote about the FBI’s director’s thoughts, which led readers to think that Russia is likely to influence the USA 2020 elections through social media. Director Wray says that Russian intelligence services are trying to turn us against each other, to create divisions, disagreements and undermine American faith in democracy.
In April both Sirp, as well as Postimees wrote about how a total tracking system is being built in China and people will be evaluated and ranked based on their activities. Tauno Vahter wrote in Sirp: „ The Chinese police in Guiyang city at the end of 2017 proudly demonstrated how cameras with face recognition software were able to find a BBC journalist in a city with five million inhabitants in just seven minutes. The creation of this new system will attempt to teach camera-related software to distinguish suspicious behaviors such as nervousness, constant looking about, body temperature etc. For political reasons, they have started collecting DNA and speech samples besides other data on blacklisted individuals (such as Uighurs)“.
The last and most important reflection for Propastop was made by ERR, when they interviewed the future Minister of Culture, Tõnis Lukas who answered Madis Hindres’ question; „ Coalition partners are allowing the prevention of hostile influence activities against the state. Perhaps you can somehow elaborate on this point, or does it mean that publications like Sputnik will be stopped?“ he answered that the state gives out licenses and fixes coverage areas. The activities of hostile television and radio stations can be restricted by the state in the territory of Estonia. These things have to be looked at very seriously so that propaganda against the Estonian state cannot be made on the territory of Estonia.