May 20, or the day after tomorrow, is the last day when the domain registration of the Kremlin propaganda portal sputnik-news.ee is valid in Estonia.
It is likely that the owner of Sputnik, the Russian media group Rossiya Segodnya, will try to renew the domain registration by paying the Estonian Internet Foundation (EISA). As European Union, sanctions have been imposed on Dmitri Kiselyov, who is the head of the media group, the companies he manages may not engage in business activities in Estonia and Europe. Therefore, paying for Sputnik’s .ee domain is a violation of sanctions and should not occur.
Propastop has written about violations of EU sanctions in Estonia on several occasions. On February 11, we warned of the imminent expiration of domains and outlined how a scheme for evading sanctions is possible through the Danish company Ascio. On April 28, we wrote about how, despite warnings, another propaganda portal belonging to Rossiya Segodnya, Baltnews.ee was able to extend the Estonian domain.
EISA is aware of the breach
We asked EISA if they were aware of the problem. In a reply sent to Propastop on April 27, Silver Sõrmus, a lawyer for the foundation, writes that Baltnews and Sputnik are aware of the violation of sanctions. EISA has informed the Estonian Money Laundering Data Bureau (RAAB), the agency responsible for enforcing sanctions in Estonia about the situation. It is clear from the letter that the RAAB has not requested EISA to suspend these domains and that propaganda portals with the .ee ending can therefore operate unhindered.
The police have launched an investigation
On April 29, journalist Viljar Voog published an article on the same subject in Õhtuleht, which said that the police have launched an investigation into the case. “The Money Laundering Data Bureau (RAAB) will look into the referred information and form a position on it after checking and identifying the circumstances,” Voog wrote, mediating the words of the head of the RAAB, Madis Reimand.
The next few days will show whether the Estonian authorities will be able to prevent the violation of sanctions against Russia. Should Sputnik still be able to renew its .ee domains without any worries, RAAB should publicly explain the reasons for non-compliance.
Screenshot from EISA homepage. Graphics: Propastop.