Estonia - 7-13 June 2016

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An RT alternative history of the Russia’s annexation of Crimea, suggesting that if Russia had not annexed the peninsula the situation the situation there would be as bloody as in Donbass, is among the most popular videos in Estonia.

Object of manipulation: The global video-sharing website YouTube.

Date: 08 June 2016

Title:  “If Crimea were not ours. An alternative history of Crimea from RT


Date: 08 June 2016

Title:If Crimea was not ours. An alternative history of Crimea by RT”)

The false fact or narrative: The video suggests that if Crimea was still a part of Ukraine, there would be bloodshed and the situation would be similar that of Donbas.

Reality on the ground: It is far more probable that if Crimea was still a part of Ukraine, there would be no Western sanctions on Russia, no additional NATO troops in Eastern Europe and less tension between Russia and the West.

Technique: Drowning the facts with emotions; representing the story in such an emotional way that the facts lose their importance.

Audience: Between 9 and 13 June, the video was among the most popular in Estonia. On 10 June, in fact, it ranked in 45th place.

Analysis: The video marked Russia Day (12 June) by fomenting pro-Russia sentiment among Russian-speakers in the countries bordering Russia itself. Using emotionally and ideologically charged visuals, it distorts and falsely portrays events while ignoring the painful consequences the annexation really had for Ukraine and Russia, especially for people living in Crimea.  

Description of sources: RT is a Russian government-funded TV network. It claims to offer a “Russian” perspective on global events but is, in fact, a propaganda outlet for the Russian government. RT is viewable in Estonia via satellite, but no reliable figures for RT’s Estonian audience are available. Russian-language TV is the chief source of information for non-ethnic Estonians. According to one 2014 survey, more Russian-speaking Estonians trusted Russian media channels for coverage of events in Ukraine than they did Estonian-language media.

YouTube: YouTube is a global video-sharing website. Most of its content is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations and other organizations offer some of their material via YouTube, as part of the YouTube partnership program. RT operates several YouTube news channels: RT (the main channel), RT America, RT Arabic, RT en Español, RT Deutsch, RT French, RT UK, RT на русском and the newly launched RT Chinese. Although no data on YouTube use in Estonia is publicly available, it is likely that “If Crimea were not ours. An alternative history of Crimea from RT” was uploaded by Russian-language speakers.