Moscow’s propaganda. Enablers at home and abroad. (II) Estonian Life
Vladimir Purtin’s foreign policy, announced a few years ago included the concept of support for and defence of Russian speaking minorities, numbering somewhere around 25 million and growing, It also included the use of military intervention if necessary, certainly to pre-empt possible anti-Russian developments as predicted by Moscow, no matter how unlikely their occurance would be. Witness Russian aggression in Ukraine.
In supporting its kin abroad Moscow has decided to fan the flames of segragation and oppose the process of assimilation in Estonia. It’s financing groups and individuals in Estonia who are spreading the message of human rights violations against the Russian diaspora and support the Kremlin’s respective propaganda.
In 2012 Russia established the ‘Fund Supporting Justice for Russians Living Abroad’. Later in 2014 it was evident that the groups that the Fund supported were also active in assisting the Russian occupation of Crimea.
The court costs in the West of arrested Russians intelligence operatives are often covered by such Kremlin funds. Offcials administering such funds are members of Russian intelligence services.
The Fund also finances reports originating in Russia and distributed by groups in Estonia describing the human rights situation with the Russian community and passed on to Russian officials to be used as they see fit. The content is always anti-Estonian and written for international consumption as an international problem needing correction.
Attendance by Russian activists from Estonia at international conferences abroad is financed by the Moscow-based Fund. Thus Russian speakers in 2015 from the non-profit Human Rights Information Centre and Russian School in Estonia participated at the annual OSCE conferences on democratic institutions and human rights in Warsaw and also in Vienna. The Russian participants from Estonia list themselves as independent representatives, even though their costs are covered by the Russian government and attend as Moscow’s proxies.
They actively offer commments based on information packaged by Moscow, referring to human rights and minorities in Estonia. These opinons are often quoted in subsequent official reports of legitimate international organizations. Russia thus has opportunities to refer to recognized and respected international sources as proof of civil violations in Estonia. It’s indeed a clever way to have one’s own fabrication and misrepresentation get the stamp of authenticity so it can be used once again, this time as credible material.
As expected, the use of activists in Estonia who advocate Moscow’s anti-assimilation policy for the Russian speakers, is accompanied by traditional corruption. The funds that reach the activists for promoting anti-assimilation is limited, thus the financial benefits accrue to a few. But for the professional activist this funding has become the only source of income.
It follows that the proposals the professional activist presents to Moscow for funding must dovetail with Moscow’s insistence that the Russian community in Estonia is suffering. The activist’s own financial well-being depends on this, even though the reality of the situation is different. Experienced proposal writers take advantage of the slack scrutiny offered by the funding authorities and line their own pockets with the funding. Proof of potential costs are presented in the form of photos, articles, a few bills etc. The more urgent the problems presented, the more likely funding will be approved. The Kremlin thus forms its own evaluation of the situation – through exaggerations and fabrications of those in Estonia seeking personal gain.
At first glance this corruption seems to be limited to the ties with Moscow. But its influence transcends the border. Benefitting from the corrupt approach, according to KAPO are a few members of parliament, members of Estonian political parties, municipal officials who have no compunction in adopting this foreign habit.
The annual KAPO report of of activities and developments during 2015, states, amongst other things, that Vladimir Putin, in following soft power’tactics, is exploiting real as well as perceived problems and sensitive issues abroad. The Kremlin also creates and intensifies problems whenever necessary.
The idea of a “near abroad” dominates Moscow’s foreign policy orientation for its neighbours. This for KAPO spells “a good neighbour is one under control”. To justify the wielding of increased power and influence over its neighbours Russia deems it necessary to be the guardian of the interests of Russian speakers there. It’s interesting to note that the Kremlin accepts the fact that Russian groups abroad enjoy a better quality of life than in Russia.