Everyone has probably heard of Roman Trofimov’s story by now. The Jõhvi resident, born in 1984, flew from Tallinn to the Philippines on March 12, the day the emergency was imposed. When arrived on 20 March, to Manila airport the country had already initiated a ban from entering the country due to the coronavirus. Trofimov could not leave the airport and lived there for more than three months. On July 7, Trofimov finally managed to fly from Manila and arrived in Tallinn on July 9. A more thorough overview of the whole case can be found in the articles by ERR, Delfi, Õhtuleht and Postimees.
There were many people in a similar situation in the world, but the Trofimov case attracted attention due to a blog on Facebook. The Estonian press, Russian media channels, as well as Western publications such as The Sun, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the German Focus, Times of Israel and others, wrote about the airport incarceration.
As a rule, the stories are more relating to a human nature side of the case. However, even in the initial reflections, there is seen a critical stance towards Estonia. Trofimov claimed that Estonia had not helped him (in fact, he was in constant contact with Estonian diplomats and officials; he received food aid, access to communications and, finally, return flight tickets). In his stories, he also expressed the opinion that the Estonian citizenship policy is to blame for his situation (Trofimov is not a citizen of any country; he has a residence permit for a person without Estonian citizenship, the so-called gray passport).
After returning, Trofimov has started attacking Estonia
After returning, Trofimov has continued to maintain his blog, but has now turned his anger against the Republic of Estonia. On July 16, he created the Facebook page My Publication in English, where he has published five articles in English to date on the situation of Estonian Russians and criticism of the citizenship policy.
The published texts paint a picture of the lives of Russian-speaking people living in Estonia as not being comfortable and not fulfilling with a constant stream of biased information from the government. Thoughts that are familiar from the Kremlin’s propaganda media, which, according to Propastop, also sow international hatred.
Some examples of statements made in Trofimov’s posts:
– After Estonia’s independence in 1991, ethnic Russians living in Estonia were not granted citizenship
– Even in 2020, the Estonian-speaking minority in Estonia are still treated as second-class stateless individuals
– Estonia has created inhumane conditions for ethnic Russians in Eastern-Virumaa, in essence labour camps and reserves
– Citizenship laws and citizenship requirements are discriminatory
– Russians with Estonian citizenship form the higher class of Estonia, but stateless Russians without citizenship are a lower subclass
You can read about the background of these statements and lies in the Propastop Mythbreaker section.
Trofimov shares these posts in his main account, and after his return, he has given interviews to both the Estonian media and the Kremlin’s propaganda channels. In all of them, Trofimov highlights the same issues that attack Estonia.
Is anyone assisting Trofimov?
Propastop has doubts as to whether the posts published on Facebook were still compiled by Trofimov himself or if he had any help in expressing anti-Estonian views. The suspicion is based on thoroughly developed material, possession of facts and data and the publication of a series of relatively voluminous posts in English within a few days. Infographics have also been added to the texts. Trofimov’s previous posts do not show this ability.
One connection is indicated by a photo of a miner published in his postings, which has recently been used as an illustration of stories about Eastern-Virumaa by the Kremlin’s propaganda channel in Estonia Baltnews (Propastop does not publish direct links to this propaganda channel). The author of the photo is shown as Sputnik / Aleksei Danitšev, a photographer from RIA Novost, Russia. The same photo has also been used in other publications before without reference to the author.
The suspicions are also supported by the fact that Baltnews, which belongs to the Russian government, has published several stories with criticism of Estonian citizenship, by Sergei Seredenko and Vladimir Vital, members of the Kremlin’s network of influence activities, synchronously with Trofimov’s postings.
Pictures: from screenshots.