Estonia claims ‘foreign pressure’ won’t impact its push against Russian outlet Sputnik amid Moscow’s complaints
The Estonian foreign minister said his country will not “yield to foreign pressure” after Russia turned to European authorities with a call to protect the Estonian branch of the Russian network Sputnik from Tallinn’s harassment.
The Estonian government has demanded that all Estonian employees of Sputnik resign, saying otherwise they may be prosecuted for violating EU sanctions against Russia. Tallinn claims that individual sanctions against the head of Sputnik’s parent organization make any financial ties to the network illegal.
Moscow sees the demand as an obvious attempt to silence Sputnik and a blatant attack on media freedom. Concerns about the situation have been voiced by some European officials, including OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir, who said he asked Tallinn “to refrain from unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign media:
I wrote to #Estonia authorities about measures targeting journalists of Sputnik Estonia following individual sanctions against Mr Kiselev. I encourage authorities to refrain from unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign media which can affect the free flow of information.— OSCE media freedom (@OSCE_RFoM) December 21, 2019
The Estonian government continues to insist it is not doing anything wrong. Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said on Thursday his country “will not yield to pressure of any foreign state on the issues of rule of law,” referring to the Russian complaints. Targeting Sputnik was about enforcing EU sanctions, he added.
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