EU reportedly making plans to counteract Kremlin-backed “disinformation” campaign.
Transitions Online 2 October 2015
Estonia’s new Russian-language TV channel is “a long-term project” meant to bridge the gap between the majority population and the 25 percent of Estonian residents whose native tongue is Russian, says the program director at Estonian public broadcaster ERR, Ainar Ruussar.
ETV+ this week began airing 10 hours a day of news and entertainment programs in Russian, the AP reports.
Bordering Russia and with a large and sometimes restive Russian minority, Estonia is a natural location for such a channel, and ETV+ is the first Russian-language public TV channel in the European Union, according to Deutsche Welle.
"It is one thing to watch entertainment made in Moscow but another thing to see people you know from your neighborhood on television," Tallinn University researcher Raivo Vetik is quoted by DW as saying.
A draft EU communications plan seen by Radio Free Europe in June reportedly backs support for independent media in the bloc’s eastern neighbors and efforts to reveal “disinformation activities by external actors” – an apparent reference to Kremlin-supported media, such as RT.
EU countries began mooting the idea after Russia’s intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The plan makes no mention of new Russian-language media outlets although countries such as Denmark and Latvia have proposed an EU-backed Russian channel.
Estonia is also using communications technology to reach out to a different group it wants to be on good terms with – investors.
As the Baltic Review reports, the country’s “e-residency” program allows foreigners to acquire a government-issued digital identity and thus access many of Estonia’s unrivaled array of digital services normally available only from within the country. So far, Finns, Ukrainians, and Russians have submitted the most applications.
•Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is an Estonian e-resident. So is Swedbank president Michael Wolf. Physically, they live elsewhere, but they and almost 4,000 other foreigners have joined the scheme since its launch in late 2014.
• Aimed mainly at startups, the e-residency permits foreigners to set up a company in Estonia, open a bank account, and access the EU market online from outside the country.
• E-residency will be open to Singaporeans starting next year, government official and tech entrepreneur Taavi Kotka – known as Estonia’s “chief information officer” – announced in September.
Estonia Launches Russian TV Channel