24 Jan 2020 Lvl. 1
Alert created on: 09 Jan 2020 n° 4/2020 Estonia
Russian State News Agency Sputnik Shuts Tallinn Bureau Under Pressure From Estonian Police
The Russian state-controlled news agency Sputnik stated that it is closing its bureau in Tallinn (Estonia) after 35 of its employees resigned saying they were facing pressure from the Estonian police. Sputnik published a statement 1 January 2020 saying 35 of its staff in Estonia had resigned, fearing possible criminal prosecution. Sputnik Estonia, which produces audio and text online in Russian and Estonian, is controlled by the Russian state media organization Rossiya Segodnya. On 11 December, Madis Raimand, head of the money laundering information bureau of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Department, sent a letter to all the employees of Sputnik Estonia asking them to stop cooperating with Rossiya Segodnya by 1 January 2020, and threatening them with criminal prosecution. These threats against Sputnik Estonia’s employees were allegedly based on the 2014 EU sanctions against Rossiya Segodnya General Director Dmitry Kiselyov for supporting the violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity. On 21 December, the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir encouraged Estonian authorities "to refrain from unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign media which can affect the free flow of information." Earlier in the autumn, Estonian officials froze the bureau’s assets and asked Sputnik’s employees to vacate its rented offices in Tallinn by the end of February. The Russian Union of Journalists and the Russian Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union both condemned the intimidation of Sputnik Estonia journalists by the Estonian police.
- News report by The Moscow Times: "Russian State News Agency Sputnik Shuts Estonia Operations"
- Radio Free Europe / RadioLiberty news report: "Russian News Agency Sputnik Closes Estonia Operations After Employees Quit"
- Statement of the Russian Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union (JMWU) (in English)
- RT news report: "Harassment of Sputnik reporters by police in Estonia ‘beyond all existing norms’: Journalist groups call to protect colleagues"
- IFJ statement: "Estonian government threatens journalists with criminal proceedings"
- Belsat news report: "Pro-Kremlin Sputnik facing trouble in Estonia"
24 Jan 2020
Response from the Estonian authorities
09 Jan 2020
OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media encourages authorities to refrain from unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign media.