The Russian-language section of ERR gave a helping hand to the Kremlin


Russian-language ERR was one of the first to issue a press release from the Russian Embassy on the possibilities of participating in the Russian referendum in Estonia on 1 July. Such activities raise the question of whether the Estonian national broadcaster should contribute to the pushing through of Russia’s constitutional amendments, which would move away from democracy and help concretely establish an one-man rule.

Estonia is not part of a Russian local government where formal announcements about voting opportunities should be published. If the editorial board sees a need to inform Russian citizens living in Estonia, it would have been appropriate to publish information supplemented with comments on what the referendum actually contains and how people’s freedoms would be curtailed.

Last week, on Kuku’s radio program „Kirillitsas Eesti„ (“Cyrillic Estonia”) Pavel Ivanov and Sergei Metlev, discussed the news in ERR and found that nearly 80,000 Russian citizens living in Estonia are a social group that should receive information concerning this matter. The editorials’ desire to pass on this information is logical. However, overall editors do not have to treat every tweet from the Russian embassy as news for automatic publication.

Russian-language ERR has previously been of note in distributing content of questionable value to the Estonian people. In May 2018, for example, ETV + aired a series of clips made with veterans, which exhibited the many uses of St. George ribbons. The editor-in-chief of Sputnik Estonia, as a representative of the press, has been repeatedly invited to discussion programs. Most recently Propastop wrote about the Russian-language part of ERR in connection with posting materials to pro-Kremlin Facebook groups.

These groups are also currently actively promoting the Russian referendum, among which the former owner of Baltnews, Aleksander Kornilov stands out by sharing material on the referendum in his other publication, Sputnik Estonia is also sharing this information on Facebook. You can find an online advertisement inviting to participate in the referendum on the website.

There is nothing reprehensible about publishing news about Russia per say, but the Kremlin’s narratives and promotion should be avoided.

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