Sputnik Estonia demonstrates in its portal, the number of days since the editorial office had to suspend its activities in Estonia, as the sanctions imposed by the European Union made it impossible for bank transfers to employees and property owners.
The event, which has attracted huge media attention, continues to be stressed by various spokespersons in Russia. On the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik Estonia was on the picket lines with activists in front of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, „protecting freedom of speech“. He has also regularly spoken in the Russian media following his suspension. The martyr’s role seems to be working and will continue to be exploited, even though Sputnik related Social Media channels are already featuring Estonian stories.
Earlier this week, news came out that a news production center run by BMA, the parent company of PBK in Latvia, will be shut down at the end of March. The news center produces content for the PBK channel broadcasts in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The plan to suspend the PBK News Center was unveiled by the Latvian National Broadcasting corp., which first published it as unofficial information on its Social Media channel. Later Sindia Fridenberg, the marketing manager for PBK holding company, commented on the issue, saying, that she is looking for solutions to stay open and that the news centers closing is not yet certain.
Closing or stopping?
Few articles published in the Russian media talked about the closure of Latvia’s most popular Russian language channel. There was also talk of the closure of Sputnik Estonia.
However, to be exact, this is not about closing the channel, but is about stopping the regional news content production unit for PBK, whose employees cannot be paid from frozen bank accounts due to investigations initiated on the channel’s holding company, Baltic Media Alliance.
The channel as such will continue to operate after the news service stops working, just like Sputnik Estonia.
Where is the Kremlin’s attention?
Although the production of TV channel content aimed at Russian speaking audiences in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, which has a much larger audience than Sputnik Estonia, is at risk, the news has not received much media coverage in Russia.
The Kremlin could use the same accusations as was done for Sputnik in protesting the stopping of the PBK news service, which is by far the more important in Estonia, but the Russian army of spokespersons has not yet been activated.
The media has suggested that the work stoppage date is set for March 20.
What happens next?
Are we seeing a shift from Sputnik Estonia to defending the PBK News Center, under which Sputnik can quietly resume operations?
Since the pattern of causes for stopping work on both channels is quite similar, it is worthwhile keeping an eye on developments. It is possible that the business continuity solution will be similar.