Propamon, which measures coverage of Estonia in major Russian media, has seen an increasing number of mentions of Estonia since the beginning of the year.
The monitoring tool has increasingly begun to show either an orange or dark orange “propaganda traffic light”, meaning that there are more than ten daily reports in the first case and more than twenty in the second case.
In the last months of last year, the daily coverage average number was less than ten, and the most notable topics received coverage between 10-20. Since February, the daily average number of mentions has increased to more than ten, and since March, it has been 15 or more.
During the last two months, mention of Estonia in the general background is also rising. In previous months if Estonia was attacked because of a specific scandal, such as territorial demands on Russia, Tikhhanovskaya’s visit, a plan to impose new sanctions on Russia, criticism of Borell’s visit to Russia, or Toom’s and Kõlvart’s participation in the Russian media, then the last two months has passed without such major issues.
Part of the background news is regularly filled with coronavirus topics related to Estonia, which report deaths, new restrictions, wasted vaccine doses, etc. In other respects, everyday topics with one or two reflections create an increased mentioning in the background of the news. The mentions during the last week, for example have been, the release of a lifer from prison, stolen courier parcels, a video clip of a parliamentary representative from the Pro Patria political party at his home office and a rise in the rental price of co-op dormitories in Tartu.
Compared to the previous year, there has been 30% more coverage in the period from February to mid-April. In 2020, there were 679 mentions in this period. This year, the number is 885. At the beginning of 2020, one of the largest increase in mentions was caused by Russia’s reaction to the closure of Sputnik Estonia.
It is too early to assess the reasons for the increase in attention paid to Estonia now, but definitely longer analysis and monitoring will be needed. Practice has shown that such an increase in interest does not arise by itself and usually leads to problems.