The Baltic States are Again in the Fairway of War, this Time in Cooperation with Ukraine

Decisions of Lithuania and Ukraine regarding propaganda and disinformation coincided excellently (intentionally or accidentally?) with respect to time.
On 8 February the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky introduced fi…

Decisions of Lithuania and Ukraine regarding propaganda and disinformation coincided excellently (intentionally or accidentally?) with respect to time.
On 8 February the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky introduced five-year sanctions against the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the pro-Kremlin party Opposition Platform – For Life (OPZZ) Taras Kozak and TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK owned by him as the ones acting against the state of Ukraine. Thus, the leader of the country activated the resolution of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, that was approved by 17 members out of 19.
Volodymyr Zelensky admitted in public he had to made a hard decision, since Ukraine supports the freedom of speech, however at the same time he wrote on Twitter that he supported the freedom of speech but not propaganda funded by the country aggressor that is meant to encumber his country to move towards the Euro-Atlantic integration.
In the text published here ‘A Political Trojan Horse in Ukraine’ we wrote about Taras Kozak business relations with Viktor Medvedchuk, the godfather of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin (Vladimir Putin was godfather of his daughter in the Kazan Orthodox Church in Saint Petersburg in 2004). In September 2018 the Centre of investigative journalism revealed that Viktor Medvedchuk and Taras Kozak are owners of crude oil production companies in Russia, who made the property over their wives Oksana Marchenko and Natalia Lavrenyuk.
Thus, it is no wonder when the TV channel 112 Ukraine on 22 June, the day of commemoration of war victims, demonstratively showed a concert in the Kremlin. It is also no wonder that the spokesman of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov called the decision of Volodymyr Zelensky in a Jesuit way as the one that does not comply with international standards of the freedom of speech.
One manager of OPZZ, deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Vadim Rabinovych threatened the President of Ukraine with impeachment and also in a Jesuit way stated that sanctions against television channels hit the heart of democracy of the freedom of speech. Taras Kozak called such a decision logically (what else is left) a political struggle. Viktor Medvedchuk promised to protect employees of TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK from abuse of discretion by the government.
Taras Kozak bought the TV channels 112 Ukraine and at the end of 2018, in June 2019 he bought and merged all three channels into a media controlling company , after which the Editor-in Chief Tatyana Vergeles and majority of its creative staff left in protest.
Latvian National Electronic Media Council banned broadcasting of the TV channel on 8 February, next day 16 Russian TV channels were added to it, , “export “version of NTV – REN-TV-Baltic and NTV Mir among them. At the decision of the Council websites and website of the news channel that are included into the structure of Rossiya Segodnya were also blocked.
House arrest has been applied to some employees of the latter in December as suspects in the criminal case regarding violation of the regime of the EU sanctions.
In Estonia Sputnik was totally stopped after all 35 employees left the Agency on 1 January. Before that Estonian institutions blocked their bank accounts, which were used for transfer of their salaries from , has argued this step since spring 2014 introduced EU sanctions against both the Agency and manager of Rossiya Segodnya Dmitry Kiseliov.
Arguments of Latvians – incitements of hatred and prompts to start war have been registered by Russian journalists Yevgeni Popov and Olga Skabeyeva on the TV channel 60 minutes and also on the programme ‘Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov’.
Chairman of the Latvian National Electronic Media Council Ivars Āboliņšs indicated such statements as speech of the leader of Russian Liberal Democrat Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky during the programme 60 minutes telling that the leader of the Belarussian opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had to be stolen from Lithuania, taken to Belarus and hung there. During the programmes Ukraine was called a terrorist state, its former president Petro Poroshenko – a terrorist. They suggested to level Kiev to the ground and build from scratch; they suggested to connect Narva in Estonia to Russia; to direct military aircrafts to Stockholm and Berlin; that Russia needs a little victorious war, etc.
Ivars Āboliņšs indicated in a laconic way on that the institution under his control defended, is defending and will defend the information space of Latvia. The reaction of the official Russia was logically forecasted – its embassy in Riga called the decision a violation of the freedom of speech and representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia – a political demarche.
REN-TV-Baltic, NTV Mir and are quite popular in Latvia where Russian-speaking people make over one fourth of the population; part of in the market of television channels in January of the current year made 7.7 percent. It was the third after the state television and the company . stopped its operations in 2014, 2016 and 2019.
On 10 February Radio and Television Commission of Lithuanian announced that it determined a violation during the programmes of RTR Planet for the second time in half-year period and is continuing the procedure regarding its temporary suspension of broadcasting not for the first time – the Commission suspended broadcasting of RTR Planet in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Since July 2020 operations of the Kremlin propaganda megaphone Russia Today and its subsidiaries in Lithuania have been banned.
Provided bans in the Baltic States were followed by let ‘s say, moderate noise, a war of public relations had taken place in Ukraine, because more news emerged about more active operations of separatists and deaths of Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas.
On 9 February the TV channel 5 channel General manager of the Centre of Applied Political Studies Volodymyr Fesenko warned that OPZZ same as operations of other pro-Russian political forces may pose threat to security of Ukraine, because OPZZ in particular as the fifth column is disposing resources to swing the conflict in the east of Ukraine. Therefore, threats of Moscow now are more real than before. We should remind that Viktor Medvedchuk – godfather of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin will not forgive the ‘slap in the face’ of Kiev to ban pro-Kremlin television in no way.
Chief Intelligence Council of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, confirmed on the same day that threats are real and informed about more active operations of the headquarters of the military forces of Russia in the east of Ukraine, by continuing mobilization of occupation forces in territories temporarily torn away from Ukraine and military training, most probably for future actions.
On 10 February a permanent representative of Ukraine in the European Council Borys Tarasyuk dismissed charges of Moscow related to suspension of Russian TV channels by indicating that a state which was demonstrating aggression against his country 7 years ago, occupied Crimea, still is having war in Donbas, violated international security and international law systems, ‘prepared‘ a million and a half internal refugees in Ukraine, made gross violations of human rights in occupied territories of Ukraine and in its own country and cynically ignores its international obligations.
The Ukrainian diplomat generalized that Moscow is imposing a complex hybrid aggression of several levels against his country, the elements of which are military attacks, political influence, and toxic propaganda.
Thus, this time making generalization – declaration of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov during his interview to Viktor Solovyev on 12 February was about preparation of Moscow to terminate relations with the EU. As if his country does not want to isolate from the world life, however it will do that if the Community makes sanctions stricter and they would be harmful to the economy of Russia.
The declaration was heard after a visit of the Chief of the diplomacy of the EU Josep Borrell in Moscow on 5 February and the diplomat after his return indicated that Russia fell short of expectations of Europe regarding its course towards democracy.
Speech of Sergey Lavrov was followed by some kind of information razzle-dazzle when spokesman of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov announced that media has taken the words of the Minister from the context and interpreted them in a ‘wrong’ way. Allegedly Moscow is not for termination of relations; it will be ‘just’ ready to do so if Europe decides to make sanctions stricter.
Empty rhetoric does not change the essence of the question too much – the regime blames others (neighbours, too) with isolationism and cynical ignorance of civilized norms by provoking them. Therefore, the Baltic States and Ukraine cooperated in the information war, this time maybe even involuntary.
Arūnas Spraunius

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Autorius: Voras Online