The annual report of the Estonian Security Police, the ‘Kaitsepolitsei’ (Kapo), states that during the last few years, attempts to recruit agents in Estonia has grown by 30 percent. Kapo considers this to be of significant concern. Kapo’s director general, Raivo Aeg says that the most aggressive in this activity is the Russian FSB, which is accountable, amongst other responsibilities, for counter-intelligence.
The FSB and other Russian clandestine services have been targetting Estonian intelligence services and military, the politics and institutions of NATO and the European Union, the Russian speaking community in Estonia with its veterans organizations, compiling details of Estonian domestic, national security and foreign policies, information technology and cyber defence, Estonian diplomacy and economics, and the recent parliamentary elections.
Kapo also stated that the Russian media use Estonian-based Russian extremist groups, such as Notsnoi Dozori, as their only sources for news from Estonia. Kapo added that the Russian media are mostly controlled by the Kremlin and as such do not pass on the actuality of world affairs but rather are tasked with promoting a positve image for the Russian leadership.
“The government-affiliated Russian media representatives on assignment in Estonia do not engage in journalistic actitivities, but rather the staging of prepared scenarios,” stated Kapo. The reference was to the annual gathering of Estonian veterans at Vaivara’s Sinimäed, the location for last the defence battles of 1944 against the Red Army offensive where Estonians were vastly outnumbered and casualties, especially the Red Army’s, were catastrophic. At the behest and financing of its Russian handlers, Notsnoi Dozori organized a noisy protest against the gathering. Russian media representatives painted the gathering as an Estonian government-supported Nazi demonstration.
Often the message carried on Russian media depicts Estonia, after its regaining of independence, as an economical depressed, socially and culturally crippeled periphery of Europe, according to Kapo’s report.
According to Aeg, the Russian language information flow from Russia has a significant impact in influencing its Estonian-based Russian-speaking audience. Its aim is to eventually affect Estonian decision-making.
Kapo’s effort at preventing Russian-based financing of Estonia’s Centre Party wasn’t part of the Estonian security police’s report. Aeg explained, that by exposing the Centre Party leader, Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar’s plea for money from Vladimir Yakunin, an FSB-connected Vladimir Putin cohort, it wasn’t necessary to repeat already public information in the report. Aeg stressed that a possible dependency on foreign political financial support could easily lead to manipulation of Estonian politics.
To what extent Kapo’s vigilance and caution is justified can be questioned. But history has shown that Moscow has a natural proclivity to dissemenate propaganda and dissinformation, and to place manipulative individuals in positions of trust and influence. One can recall the public warning of the director of CSIS in Canada that some provincial cabinet ministers may be under the sway of foreign powers. And Canada is not in the geo-political cross-hairs of a hostile neighbour unwilling to accept the loss of an empire. The public awareness of activities not always discernable is should part of living in Estonia.
Kapo report: Russian intelligence recruiters increase efforts in Estonia