Sputnik is Russian Weapon of the Information War

Estonian branch of the Russian news agency  stopped its operations from the first day of this year. Now if you enter its address on the Internet, the reader will see the only record telling that from now on this portal will o…

Estonian branch of the Russian news agency  stopped its operations from the first day of this year. Now if you enter its address on the Internet, the reader will see the only record telling that from now on this portal will operate in a particular regimen. This happened because nobody can take care of the content of the portal anymore: all employees of the agency branch terminated their employment contracts with the employer.   
What is the reason for such a decision? In the press release of the Russian news agency Rossia segonia it was written that employees of Sputnik Estonia left the office because in other case they would face up to five years in jail.  itself in the Lithuanian version of the website published that they faced a threat to bring a prosecution against its employees in letters by the Estonian Police and the Department of Boarder Protection.     
Meanwhile, Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia stated at the end of December the state is not taking and is not going to take any repressions against employees of  branch. Moreover, nobody is going to block its content, either – only financial sanctions are imposed against this agency. Actually, already in October of the last year banks of international group operating in Estonia tied up taxes assigned to the branch of agency and payments to the office rent. Later other financial institutions operating in Estonia did not want to deal it any longer with this agency. Finally, Estonian branch of Swedbank tied up personal bank accounts of all agency employees, as Sputnik Estonia informed.    
This is not the first case when  made quite enough problems for itself in the Baltic States and not just there. In July of last year Vilnius district administrative court approved resolution of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Council to block the Lithuanian portal of . Actually, the Council itself specified that it decided to block this internet resource not because of its content, but as a result of violation of copyright, since  used to post articles of the Lithuanian national broadcaster lrt.lt. Actually, two weeks later or so after Sputnik Lietuva withdrew unlawful content, the access to the website was renewed.
Previously, at the end of March of 2016 Latvian government blocked Sputnik website, because the agency conflicted with resolution of the European Council on preventive measures for a threat to independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
Ukraine was mentioned not by mistake. Actually,  established under the order of President Vladimir Putin, started its activities not long after annexation of the Crimea. However, the most important thing is Dmitri Kiseliov is directly related to the agency designated for the foreign auditorium.  is a branch of the information agency Rossia segodnia managed by him. In the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia announced on 25 December of last year D. Kiseliov is ‘the central figure of government [Russian] propaganda that is supporting Russian forces in Ukraine’. For that reason all states of the EU impose sanctions against him: they do not allow him enter their territories and are obligated to tie up his assets.
Steps made by the Estonian institutions that caused local branch of  to stop its activities, arouse hysteria not only among Russian journalists, who are diligent supporters of the Kremlin policy, but also among official representative of Moscow. In the protest to allegedly restricted freedom of the media by Tallinn, most of them put on yellow vests. The same symbol was used by Maria Zacharova, representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia during one press conference, who blamed Estonia for violation of Western values.
Furthermore, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, reacted to this situation in one press conference by saying that the government of Estonia ‘is behaving the way it is blaming us for. Freedom of information is one of the fundamental freedoms in the contemporary democratic world. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to refer to this paradigm, they want to observe other rules created by themselves, – leader of the country told, where a free word of journalists have long ago been overshadowed by the flow of propaganda and has to withdraw to the margins of the media.
Such an official reaction of the Kremlin testifies that Moscow treats its state agency  as a weapon in the information war and its loss even in one state is rather painful to it. The fact that Sputnik is not a real means of information was mentioned in assessment of threats to the national security of 2014 by the State Security Department of Lithuania (SSD) that was prepared when this agency was still preparing to start its activities. This document indicated that the project designated for spreading propaganda of Russia, which consisted of not only Internet portals, but also television and radio stations, had to include 30 states. Besides, in the report of SSD it was indicated that prior to starting activities employees of  visited Vilnius and Tallinn. ‘They collected information about radio stations and television channels operating in Lithuania and Estonia, tried to find out about possibilities to obtain broadcasting licences, talked to employees of the Russian Embassies and representatives of compatriot organizations. Pushing the information space of the Baltic and other countries, it is very important for the project promoter to create teams of professionals from local journalists and analysts made of a few or several persons, who would prepare information reports, footages, make interviews and communicate the prepared information expediously. It is most unlikely that representatives of Pro-Kremlin  will try to show our country to the Russian and global auditorium as usual as a country that does not tolerate national minorities, will manipulate in definitions of neo-fascists and nationalists, will spread disinformation about strategic projects of Lithuania’, the report says.    
As it was already mentioned in March 2016, when the Lithuanian version of  was not operating yet, Latvia reacted to the threat caused by the agency. Then the registrar of the domain names NIC in the letter regarding the agency notified that ‘registration of the domain ‘sputniknews.lv’ conflicts with resolution of the European Council on preventive measures in regards to threats to independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine’. The document also specified that violation of this enactment shall be grounds for initiation of prosecution. The domain sputniknews.lv is not operating even now, however this has not stopped the tool of propaganda of the Kremlin to operate in the name of other .com and.ru domains.      
Meanwhile in Lithuania Sputnik can be reached by entering the letters .lt, which makes a less informed user think that it is an ordinary Lithuanian portal. Nonetheless, even independent from influence of business groups and political conjuncture. Sputnik tells about things that others do not’ – presentation of the portal says by adding that as if the agency described multi-pole world, where each country has its own interests, culture, history and traditions’. The latter definition makes readers listen. Actually, the so-called multi-pole world is one of five essential principles of the Russian policy, which means that Moscow is not able to face up the established order in the world, tries to resist domination of the USA and increase its influence in the world.       
If we just cast a glance at the content of the Lithuanian version of  at least of one day we can also make an impression that it is a normal media portal with broad spectrum of news. At least half of its published articles seem quite objective and neutral. In one infogram about events of 13 January 1991 both Lithuanian and Russian ‘versions’ were published. However, objective information here ends. In all other publications about this tragedy the same old narrative of the Kremlin was prepared as if in an well-grounded way – locals were shooting locals.
The same can be said about some other topics too, that cannot keep Moscow propagandists quite: Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania here has always been discredited; the same fate is with Vytautas Landzbergis, the first leader of the restored independent Lithuania. A reader can learn from the portal that it is hard to live in the present Lithuania where a lot of people are leaving the country, where not just economical problems are prevailing but where human rights are constantly violated. Besides, year 1940 is being remembered and the lie that Lithuania joined the USSR voluntarily is mentioned and patriots of the June uprising and partisans of the post-war period are called shooters of Jews or just criminals. The tone of these articles reminds of so-called ‘active measures’ applied by Soviet Lithuania KGB, the goal of which was to discredit the fight for freedom of Lithuania and reduce the will to resist that was used by special services of occupants starting with Khrushchev to year 1991, when Lithuania restored its independence.
It should be mentioned that a lot of social networks ‘trolls’ regularly repeat propagandistic slogans of the agency  This is not actually a coincidence: one year ago  informed that it deleted 289 pages and 75 profiles in Lithuania and Eastern Europe, which, as it turned out, was secretly controlled by employees of the same agency  of the Kremlin.    
After all, the Russian weapon of the information war called under the name Sputnik of the first artificial satellite known to the whole world is still operating. How efficient its propagandistic salvos will be depends on how the society perceives its goals and targets. 

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Autorius: Voras Online