Propastop has written about Facebook groups in Estonia, which are administered by pro-Kremlin activists. These groups usually present themselves as ordinary non-ideological communities, but in actuality under this guise, they actively spread the propaganda of the Russian regime.
We were interested in how these groups deal with topics on Belarus. Do predominantly Russian-speaking group members support Belarusian aspirations for freedom? Alternatively, is dictator Lukashenko favored? A visit to Tallinn by Belarusian opposition spokesperson Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her meeting with President Kersti Kaljulaid on 31 May 2021 proved to be a suitable opportunity to investigate the matter.
Groups such as Nasha Estonija, Novosti Estonii, Tallintso, Dokole, Golos Russkoi Baltii all shared the news of Tsikhanouskaya’s visit. As a rule, these stories on Russian-language media channels in Estonia are neutral and balanced in content. However, group administrators often add ironic comments to the news, which determines the direction of all further discussions of ideas. In other cases, stories shared from Kremlin propaganda sites such as Sputnik Media or RuBaltic are written based an already biased perspective.
Irony and curses
The lion’s share of the participants in the discussions enthusiastically seize the spirit shown by the thoughts of the administrators. The news is commented on in a negative tone or an ironic way. Tsikhanouskaya is called “a nobody”, “a false president”, “self-started”, “powerless”, her mental abilities are questioned and her gender is also commented on. Comments are seen in the style of “I do not support Lukashenko, but this Tsihhanovskaja is totally meaningless.”
There is an attempt in the groups to incorporate local society splitting topics into the news. For example, the visit is associated with one of the main propaganda narratives, “Russian speakers are persecuted.” Some groups try to add a legal context to the case by asking whether Estonia has the right to formally receive Tsikhanouskaya at all.
The hostility towards Tsikhanouskaya is also mixed with the Estonian Conservative political party’s attacks on the President of Estonia. The comments about both women are similar. A suitable example is, Aleksandr Tshaplygin, the editor-in-chief of the publication “Stolitsa”, who demonstrates his non-allegiance and journalistic independence with ironic memes of the President of Estonia.
In respect of the truth, people who support Tsikhanouskaya also get to comment on the groups. However, they become part of an angry attack and victimized by bully mentalities. This solidifies the attitudes of the sounding board’s mainline.
Kremlin propaganda talking points
In conclusion, the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian opposition in these groups does not receive support, although this could be expected because of their common language space. Instead, communities managed by pro-Kremlin activists support talking points from Russia, depicting Tsikhanouskaya as a person planning to take power illegally in Russia with Western support. Thus, it can be said that by demonstrating hostility to the opposition, Russian-speaking groups in Estonia support the dictator of Belarus.
Images: screenshots of posts.