ANNOUNCEMENT: You can find the new home of CEPA's StratCom Program here.

Estonia - 1-7 January 2016

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Eesti - 01-07 jaanuar 2016  Artiklit saab lugeda ka eesti keeles

Concerning Russian disinformation in Estonia, the first week of the 2016 was quieter than usual weeks - Russia was celebrating Christmas. Nevertheless, there were three cases worth mentioning.

The case of “trading and beating Russian children in Finland”


Interfax published an article titled “В Финляндии у многодетной россиянки изъяли сына” (In Finland the son of the Russian mother was seized). There was stated that:

- Finnish human rights activist Johan Bäckman reported to Interfax that the 10 year old son of Russian mother Veronica Stopkina was separated from his family on 27th of November without a court order. The family is in shock.
- According to the social worker, the son has been complaining that he was punished at home, although there was no evidence and there was no conflict between family members, said Bäckman.
- Veronica´s son was sent to orphanage. According Bäckman, the orphanage earns a few hundred Euros per day per child. Therefore the company is doing everything possible to ensure the boy stays there as long as possible. 
- Bäckman said that Stopkina asks for help from the Russian authorities, from the children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, Russia, and Russian journalists.

At the same day, the news was published by several Russian news channels for example on yandex


Johan Bäckman, the source quoted by Interfax, published on his webpage a press release titled “У многодетной русской матери Вероники Стопкиной финны изъяли сына без основания” (Finns seized the son of Russian mother without a reason). Where he reported: 

- In Finland, 10 year old Russian boy was separated from his family and sent to the orphanage with no court order, based only on subjective opinion of the social services. His contacts with his Russian mother (who has Estonian citizenship) and Finnish father are restricted. 
- The official explanation for his separation is the boy’s confession that he was being punished at home. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the boy was actually punished. More likely the reason he was sent to orphanage is the fact that his mother is Russian.
- The orphanage’s intention is to keep the boy there as long as possible, since it is profitable for them to do so. 
- The conditions in the orphanage are poor – dirty sheets, isolation etc 
- The mother of the boy has asked Russian authorities and journalists to help them.

At the same day, TASS published the article titled “Финский правозащитник сообщил об очередном случае изъятия ребенка соцслужбами Финляндии” (Finnish human rights activist reported another case of seizure of a child by authoroties of Finland).

In the evening of the same day Russian TV channel Pervõi kanal in its main news program Vremja aired the interviews with the boy’s mother and Johan Bäckman: (starts at 6.19)

As an addition to what was published earlier, Bäckman said in the interview that

- There is a special recommendation to Finnish authorities stating that since Russian parents tend to beat their children, they should be monitored.
- The boy lives in a private orphanage, that means, in the firm, who makes money on that. So that is the case of child trade. 

On the same day four main Russian language online media channels – MK Estonia and Russian versions of Postimees, Delfi, and Õhtuleht – picked up the story, but in a different way. 

Postimees was referring to TASS and Interfax, MK Estonia  referred to TASS, both stories published without Bäckman´s speculations.

Õhtuleht  published the story with no reference to the source, just quoting Bäckman, stressing out that the boy was taken to orphanage because of her mother’s Russian nationality, and because it is profitable to the orphanage: I think here we are talking only about the money," - said the human rights activist Johan Beckman.”

Delfi refers to Interfax, and mentions the financial aspect: „It is understood that the company is doing everything to ensure that the child would live there as long as possible, said the human rights activist.“

The case of Russian ping-pong (with 4D: dismiss, distort, distract, dismay)


The interview with NATO General Hans-Lothar Domröse, given to DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur), was published on FOCUS Online 

The interview titled as "Deutscher Nato-General sieht Machtbalance in Gefahr“ (German NATO general sees balance of power in danger) was about analyzing the main events of the year – ongoing conflict in Ukraine, war in Syria, situation in Afganistan, terrorism of ISIS - , and about what to expect from the next year. 

In the interview the general mentioned that Russia has invested actively in armed forces making them extremely modern, mobile, effective and numerous. At the same time, we (the general didn’t specify who is „we“, Germany or NATO) have faced degradation of 25 percent in the last 25 years and the balance between Russia and NATO can be in danger. 


Sputnik Deutschland published the article: titled „Nato-General: Russlands  Streitkräfte sind der Nato überlegen“  (NATO general: Russian armed forces are superior to NATO), where only one aspect of the interview – Russian investments and the degradation of NATO - was mentioned, without any reference to the original interview. 


Contra Magazin (an Austrian online-magazine, often quoted by Sputnik and RT  ) published the article titled „Deutscher NATO-General warnt vor russischer Militär-Überlegenheit“ (German NATO General warns of Russian military superiority), based on Sputnik Deutschland's article the day earlier, without any reference to the original interview. Instead, Sputnik was shown as a source.

There where also several additions in Contra Magazin´s story. Engineering skills were mentioned as the reason of Russia´s advantage; examples of Russian modern weapons were given. The last paragraph of the article states: "While NATO, especially the US, invests in the very costly total surveillance, Russia is trying to use its technical possibilities to minimize the costs. Even NATO General Domröse criticized the cost-benefit factor with regard to the use of modern technology.”