Rakvere products in Russian propaganda

25.10.2023

In a recent Facebook post dated October 24, 2023, Zoja Paljamar stirred up a noteworthy conversation as she showcased products from Estonian Rakvere sausages and cutlets on display in a St. Petersburg supermarket. Her caption read, “Discovered in St. Petersburg supermarket. How is that? Where are the sanctions?” immediately caught the attention of her followers and Estonian media.

 

Prices are unusually high at the St. Petersburg store, where customers can purchase a 530-gram pack of Estonian-produced Rakvere cutlets for 11 euros (1,099 rubles). The same product can be purchased from the Estonian Barbora online store for 4.79 euros. A grocery store in St. Petersburg sells a 300-gram Doctor’s or cheese sausage for 5.25 euros (525 rubles in Russia), and you can buy it in Estonia for 1 euro and 69 cents.

The European Union has approved a list of goods whose export to and import from Russia is prohibited. As a rule, the export and import restrictions imposed by the EU on Russia do not apply to foodstuffs, agricultural production, and medicines. Producers and businessmen make their decisions based on how great the need is to cooperate with the Russian Federation.

Are those photos real?

Delfi Ärileht has reached out to Rakvere representatives, who quickly responded to the journalist’s appeal about the ethics of Russian trade in the current geopolitical conditions.

Rakvere company, a prominent producer of Estonian sausages and cutlets, has categorically stated that it does not export its products to Russia, directly or indirectly. A company representative emphasized their long-standing ethical stance on this matter.

Additionally, the company clarified that they have no clients or partners in Russia, making it all the more puzzling how their products found their way to a St. Petersburg supermarket. The representative speculated that past instances involved private individuals who crossed borders to purchase goods in Estonia, which somehow ended up in local markets.

A jar bearing the distinct LIDL logo is clearly seen on the left.

In response to the viral photos, the representative also raised questions about their authenticity, pointing out that labels on the products appeared to be printed on paper and merely taped onto the goods. This, they argued, made it impossible to identify the specific store or its location.

Vigilant Facebook users have drawn attention to a telling detail in one of the pictures: a jar bearing the distinct LIDL logo. This discovery is particularly intriguing, given that LIDL, a well-known European supermarket chain, does not have a presence in Russia.

In a twist to the viral post, Facebook users have taken the investigation a step further. They’ve tried to identify the specific store and pointed out that it is currently out of service.

Who is Zoja Paljamar?

The author behind the Facebook post, Zoja Paljamar, is no stranger to controversy. Known for her pro-Russian stance, Paljamar is a prominent figure in Estonia and served as the coordinator of the “Immortal Regiment in Tallinn” movement.

On June 8, 2023, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) revoked Zoja Paljamar’s Estonian residence permit at the suggestion of the Defense Police, and she was banned from entering Schengen for ten years. At the moment, Paljamar resides in Russia and is actively communicating with Pro-Kremlin Member of the European Parliament Yana Toom, who is assisting Paljamar in her appeal to the court regarding the PPA’s decision.

What can be learned from this?

Information originating from sources connected to Russia should be approached with a grain of salt and a diligent commitment to fact-checking.

Pro-Russian agents employ deceptive tactics, crafting fabricated scenarios to cast doubt on the effectiveness and necessity of sanctions. Their objective is to create the illusion that sanctions are ineffective, thereby sowing uncertainty about their relevance. Additionally, these agents aim to portray the West as dependent on the Russian market, furthering their propaganda efforts.

In today’s information landscape, “trust but verify” is vital. Media literacy and skepticism are essential in an era where information can be weaponized and manipulated, ensuring an informed and balanced perspective.

The images used are screenshots from the referenced pages.