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Country Report Estonia

  • ID: 2114012
  • Country Profile
  • April 2016
  • Region: Estonia
  • 67 Pages
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit
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Estonia and Latvia have chosen to take different responses to the continuing influence of Russian media in the Baltic region, given its broadcasting of often hostile propaganda and strong pro-Russian bias. Whereas Latvia has suspended a Russian TV channel and closed a controversial Russian-owned news portal, Estonia is allowing Russian-language media to operate unhindered, but has launched a government-operated Russian-language TV channel. We do not expect either response to ignite social unrest, but nor do we expect the moves to prove very effective in countering Russian media influence. As a result, such influence will help to perpetuate existing cultural and political divisions within Baltic society.

In April the Latvian media regulator, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), suspended the Rossija RTR TV channel-which broadcasts from Sweden, but is owned by a Russian state media company and prepares content in Russia-from being broadcast in Latvia for six months. The regulator found that shows broadcast by Rossija RTR in 2015 contained hate speech aimed at inciting ethnic hatred in Latvia, as well as reporting that advocated war and conflict. Lithuania's media regulator, the Radio and Television Commission, has previously also suspended broadcasts from Rossija RTR.

A few weeks earlier, in late March, the Latvian government had also moved against the Latvian-language content of Russia's Sputnik News, by removing the online agency's Latvian domain name. The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that Sputnik was not a news agency-applications to register the organisation in Latvia had been rejected twice-but rather a propaganda outlet for the Russian government. Sputnik is a part of the Russian state's Russia Today news agency, which is run by Dmitry Kiselyov, who is currently subject to both EU and US government sanctions.
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Country Report Estonia

Russian media maintain influence
Russian TV channels will remain popular, despite moves to counter them
Ongoing Russian influence on Baltic public opinion will reinforce societal divisions
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