Eesti Elu
Russian websites: accurate and credible?
Archived Articles 13 Feb 2009 Estonian Central Council in CanadaEesti Elu
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Estonian Central Council in Canada - LL

"Estonia will not allow the sister of Aleksius II (the last Russian Orthodox patriarch of Moscow) to Moscow for medical treatment, because nobody will issue an invitation to visit Russia," states the Russian website Life.ru.

The website blames the Estonian authorities for not issuing a visa to Elena, who cannot present an invitation to visait.

It continues: "Bureaucratic delays have prevented the seriously sick sister of Aleksius II, Elena (72), to the Moscow eye hospital for a check-up."

Elena explained that before Aleksius' death, his invitation always resulted in a visa.

The accusation on Life.ru begs some questions: Is the journalist who wrote the article not aware that Russian officials, not Estonian, issue visas - more exactly Russian consuls stationed in either Russian embassies or consulates? Estonian authorities are not involved in the visa issuing process. In fact universally, it's the country of destination that is the visa-issuing authority. It's a permit that allows the traveler to at least arrive at the border or passport control of the country of destination.

Are the readers of Life.ru so misinformed that information with major inaccuracies or wide gaps in logic are to be taken at face value? Is Life.ru called on the carpet by the local Russian press council for spreading falsehoods?

If the readers are constantly fed deliberately erroneous material, are the most sensationally false accusations also believable? Is this article a deliberate attempt to discredit Estonia, part of a long series in a propaganda campaign of negative stories aimed at the three Baltic states?

Eesti Päevaleht, an Estonian daily newspaper, after some digging, was able to establish that Estonian citizens, which Elena evidently is, have to apply at the Russian embassy in Tallinn for a visa. For a special visa, such as one for medical assistance, the applicant must be invited by a permanent resident of Russia. For traveling to the funeral of a relative or visiting the grave of relatives, visas are issued on a less stringent basis. (Life.ru claimed that Elena did not attend Aleksius' funeral because of the lack of a visa.) It turns out that Elena is not a sister of the late Aleksius, but rather a cousin.

One could argue that Life.ru's inaccuracies/falsehoods in this article are insignificant. But it's the strange perversion of logic presented that shows either a contempt for the reader's gullibility, betrays the ignorance of the writer or is intentionally disdainful of Estonia.

One could dismiss this as laughable, but Moscow's propaganda campaign continues relentlessly, sometimes comic and childish, sometimes vitriolic and mean spirited, sometimes petty and nagging, but often accompanied by the Kremlin's pomposity.
 
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