The Estonian National Broadcasting shares its Russian-language news in various Facebook groups. However, they include some groups who are carried by pro-Kremlin figures and who actively post Kremlin propaganda materials. According to Propastop, ERR consequently indirectly supports the activities of influencing agents against Estonia.
Three examples of these types of groups
Novosti Estonii (Estonian News) is a group of nearly 3,500 members, among whose 14 administrators you can find several names related to local Kremlin networks: Allan Hantsom, Oleg Nazmutdinov, Mstislav Russakov, and Sergei Seredenko. Administrators in the group are actively posting materials from the Russian propaganda channels Sputnik and Baltnews. Materials from Kremlin-backed soft power actions, such as Immortal Regiment, are also being distributed. ERR Novosti, the official FB account of the Russian-language editorial board of the national broadcaster, is a regular poster in this group.
Nash Lasnamjae/Our Lasnamäe is a group of more than 1000 members that shares many local topics. The administrators of the group are Nazmutdinov, Russakov, Svetlana Lvova, already familiar from the previous group, as well as Alissa Blintsova, the initiator of several information attacks against Estonia. Through the postings of these individuals the Kremlin’s agenda is constantly represented in this group of local news, alongside ERR news.
The third group is Võborõ v Estonia (elections in Estonia) with almost 2,400 members. Oleg Bessedin, who also has anti-Estonian propaganda attacks in his account, administers it. The posts distributed in the group mainly consist of the content of the Kremlin’s propaganda channel Baltnews and materials posted by ERR.
Why is ERR activity a problem?
ERR shares its news in these groups, probably because it wants to be more popular among Russian-speaking readers and to find more followers. In itself, such an objective is admirable.
However, the excitement of gaining popularity ignores the fact that their actions normalize the messages of pro-Kremlin activists. If the Kremlin’s propaganda is day by day alongside the news of Estonian national broadcasting, the ERR’s credible reputation will also expand their credibility. For thousands of ordinary members of the group, Baltnews or Sputnik can be as serious as Estonian National Broadcasting. The notion that one is a group of blatant propaganda portals and the other honest and serious press is not supported by this juxtaposition.
Sharing ERR content can also be one of the reasons for the large membership of groups. Thus, with its reliable information, the ERR attracts readers to the hidden agenda of the Kremlin’s propagandists.
Such activities must be stopped
According to Propastop, the ERR must understand the wider consequences of its actions, take responsibility for them and end indirect support for the Kremlin’s influence.
The sharing of news in groups with the Kremlin’s agenda must be stopped. The apology that there are many Russian-speaking readers in these groups is not acceptable. There are several Russian-speaking Estonian uniting groups on Facebook, the creators of which have no hidden anti-Estonian goals and where ERR does not post.
In some cases, this case is similar to the discussions that broke out around PBK, where the purchase of programs and advertisements on the Kremlin’s propaganda channel was justified by the simple statement that “there are Russian-speaking viewers”. Even such activities are reprehensible for Propastop and must end, especially if the support is backed by Estonian taxpayers’ money, as in the case of the Tallinn City Government or ERR.
Images: screenshots of the pages referenced in the story.