Why The Kremlin’s Media Abroad Can And Should Be Blocked – OpEd


Recently, a storm was caused in Russia by the decision of Latvian authorities to detain seven employees of news websites Baltnews and Sputnik. The detained journalists (Moscow’s propaganda mouthpieces, to be more precise) were accused of violating EU sanctions, as they worked under the news agency Rossiya Segodnya which is headed by Dmitry Kiselev, who is included in the EU sanctions list.

Russian media outlets reported this as censorship, restricting the freedom of speech and blatant discrimination against Russian-speakers. However, as always the propagandists forgot to mention that the detainment of these journalists was both lawfully and morally just:

  • first, these people did receive their salaries from Kiselev’s Rossiya Segodnya;
  • second, neither Baltnews nor Sputnik can be considered as independent media outlets – they are the Kremlin’s tools of influence used to interfere in the internal affairs of Latvia and other neighboring states.

The latter statement is confirmed by a series of articles published by the Dossier Center regarding the work of The Department for Interregional Relations and Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries of the Presidential Administration, whose primary task is to interfere in the internal affairs of post-Soviet states, including Latvia.

The department deals with establishing a network of agents of influence which can be used to organize hateful propaganda campaigns against Russia’s neighboring countries. This is what the detained Sputnik and Baltnews propagandists were doing in Latvia.

To better understand the Kremlin’s activities of influence abroad, the Dossier Center also published several secret documents that contain plans to recruit journalists in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to work for Moscow, as well as a report by the Historical Memory Foundation about their activities during the last ten years.

The documents prove that the Foreign Intelligence Service’s agents in the Kremlin have continuously attempted to recruit journalists and established a network of countless NGOs aimed at discrediting Moscow’s disloyal neighbors. For instance, the Historical Memory Foundation had established at least 11 fake NGOs and maintained a network of over 200 agents of influence all over the globe. The foundation’s tasks, provided in clear text, include undermining the “regimes” of the Baltic states. In Latvia, the foundation cooperates with 21 unnamed agents. It is very likely that the detained Sputnik and Baltnews journalists are exactly these agents.

Even more interesting are the e-mails leaked by the Dossier Center between propagandists linked with the Presidential Administration. For example, e-mails sent by former editor-in-chief of RuBaltic.Ru – a website similar to Baltnews and Sputnik – Sergey Rekeda reveal that his media outlet operated almost as an intelligence service tasked with destabilizing the Baltic states.

Journalists of RuBaltic.Ru had continuously gathered information on Baltic politicians, organized ideological summer camps for young journalists (Studia Baltica school), developed guidelines how to “correctly” discredit ruling parties, etc. In other words, for a long time the website RuBaltic.Ru fulfilled the Kremlin’s will and engaged in discrediting and destabilizing Latvia. Identical methods were also employed by the journalists working for Baltnews and Sputnik, many of whom had ties to RuBaltic.Ru.

For these reasons, I find it absurd that Moscow and its lackey propagandists continue spreading lies about discrimination against Russian-speakers in the Baltic states.

Let’s finally be honest – the people that are being detained by law enforcement authorities in the Baltic states are not journalists, they are the Kremlin’s agents of influence and spies who are disturbing the peaceful existence of these countries. We should finally ask Latvian intelligence services and law enforcement institutions – why have the actions taken against the Kremlin’s information “terrorists” been so indecisive? Considering that the instructions given to these people foresee the destabilization of the existing regimes of the Baltic states.

It’s only logical that they should be punished for their crimes.

*Andrey Normundovich Ivanov is a journalist from Russia.

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