Last Sunday, 22. September, was the anniversary of the conquest of Tallinn, which the Kremlin tried to present with various techniques and releases as the liberation of Tallinn. Already in the summer, information began to circulate that Russia was planning to celebrate the conquest of important cities at the end of World War II with fireworks in Moscow.
The topic related to Estonia started to unfold already on 17. September, when the Russian ambassador to Estonia told the newsgroup TASS: „We have been able to make sure that the people of Estonia remember and cherish the heroic acts of Soviet soldiers.“ This provided the direction of how the news would move in the next week, in other words, Russia was trying to show the conquering of Tallinn as a major victory over Fascism.
On 21. September the Russian Ministry of Defence released a selection of documents on the conquest of Tallinn, presenting them as evidence of the liberation of Tallinn. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also present at the release of the material as were representatives of major publications. On 22. September, the focus was on the fireworks in Moscow, and in the background, the narrative of the liberation of Tallinn was repeated.
None of the three actions received any major media coverage in Russia. The topic was marked as usual, but there was no comprehensive media campaign on the topic. Greater activity was in Social Media, where materials were shared and messages reinforced with several new postings on the subject. The Russian Embassy in Estonia, the local Sputnik as well as the Russian Foreign Ministry, were particularly active here.
Estonia counter attacks
Significantly, more media coverage was received by Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu’s statement that Estonia was occupied on 22. September 1944 and that Russia continues to disseminate false information by calling it a liberation.
This message spread on Monday in most major and smaller Russian propaganda publications. Leonid Slutski, the Chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, responded on Twitter, saying that Russia would never recognize that Estonia was occupied.
According to Propastop’s editorial office, this is a small victory in a great propaganda war, because this time the Russian media succeeded in spreading the Estonian position as well as spreading the idea that in 1944 Estonia was occupied. The Russian propaganda network, to which Estonia does not have access, disseminated the message and the very idea behind it, as it was presented.
Most of the news coverage on the subject mentions the occupation of Estonia, either in the title or in the headline, consequently helping to spread the Estonian message. The text of the Kremlin’s narrative tries to persuade the reader that Tallinn was liberated and victory over the Fascists was accomplished, although when browsing the headlines, Estonia’s main message of occupation is constantly repeated to the readers.
In trying to refute the information, the rejected message was actually amplified, which worked in Estonia’s favour.
Propastop’s contribution to overcoming the propaganda myth
Propastop published an article just before the anniversary date of the conquest of Tallinn, refuting the propaganda myth of the liberation of Tallinn.
In addition, Propastop volunteers distributed this material on the Social Media sites of Russian State agencies and media during the weekend anniversary of the conquest of Tallinn. References to the article on the overturning of the myth was repeatedly posted in commentaries on the Russian Ministry of Defence and Foreign Ministry sites, as well as media outlet websites on September 22.
Many of these comments were deleted, but many of them circulated and still exist on postings to this day. Available statistics show that the action brought additional attention to the Russian language version of the myth-breaking article
Reading the comments on the 22. September postings, it is evident that in addition to Propastop, a number of other Social Media users have begun to criticize and disprove the false information disseminated about the liberation of Tallinn.
Photo: Screenshots from a news portal and the FB webpages.