Estonia is a country where Sputnik has faced unprecedented problems, according to Rossiya Segodnya and Sputnik Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.
According to her, in November, the owner of the office, in which Sputnik Estonia was located broke the contract with the outlet under police pressure.
Rossiya Segodnya considers Tallinn’s actions against Sputnik Estonia to be arbitrary and will turn to the UN, the OSCE, as well as other organisations, the agency’s press service said in a statement.
“Sputnik Estonia employees received letters from the management of the Police Department and the Border Guard of the country with direct threats of initiating criminal proceedings against them if they do not stop working relations with the parent organisation, the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, by 1 January 2020″, the agency’s press service said.
“As justification for these actions, sanctions imposed by the European Union on 17 March 2014 against a number of individuals and legal entities in the light of events in Ukraine were mentioned”, the press service said.
The agency is, furthermore, not on any sanction lists whatsoever.
“We consider the actions of the Estonian authorities to be blatant arbitrariness and plan to appeal to such international organisations as the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, UNESCO, the ECHR, demanding a proper assessment of this unprecedented case of violation of freedom of speech in recent years and measures to ensure the right of our journalists to carry out their professional activities”, the press service said.
Kirill Vyshinsky, Rossiya Segodnya’s executive director, and one of the prisoners released by Ukraine in the 35:35 exchange in September, said that he would raise the issue of threats against Sputnik Estonia employees at the meeting of the presidium of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council.
the Russian deputy envoy to the OSCE has stated that threats to journalists on the part of Estonian authorities constitute political pressure on Sputnik Estonia.
“Obviously, we are witnessing political pressure on Sputnik Estonia. Obviously, this is not in line with Estonia’s commitments to ensuring freedom of expression as an OSCE [member]. We will continue raising this issue, including at the permanent councils of the organisation, and in every possible way drawing public attention to the outrageous actions of Tallinn”, Russia’s deputy envoy to the OSCE, Maxim Buyakevich said.
Belgian human rights activist Andy Vermaut said that Rossiya Segodnya and Sputnik have faced unprecedented pressure, as well as difficulties and threats by the police.
“The Estonian Constitution establishes freedom of expression and the press and the government should practically respect these rights. The right to constitutional law and press freedom is so good on paper”, he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, too, expressed Russia’s discontent with the pressure Estonia exerts on Sputnik.
“The official Tallinn harasses the agency overtly, it uses administrative instruments to block activities of the information resource, resorting to avowedly punitive measures. The Estonian authorities have enthusiastically joined the common campaign for media discrimination in the Baltic region, specifically regarding media linked to Russia,” Zakharova said at a briefing.
“We are calling for reaction of relevant international structures, OSCE representatives on media freedom, first of all, and also human rights and non-governmental groups,” Zakharova added.
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