Estonian MP asks minister about plans to end funding of Russian propaganda channels

Reform Party parliamentary group deputy chairwoman Keit Pentus-Rosimannus has asked Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) regarding the kinds of legislative amendments the Ministry of the Interior plans to submit to end the channeling of Estonian taxpayers’ money to channels linked to Russian influencing activity and participation in the financing of hostile channels this way.

“An absurd situation currently exists in Estonia in which security authorities are fighting channels that are part of hostile influencing activity while taxpayers’ money is being channeled through a large municipality to finance these same channels,” Pentus-Rosimannus said. “It was only a week ago that the security authorities of Estonia and Latvia searched the main headquarters of the parent company of PBK. Estonia’s expertise in recognizing and combating hostile influencing activity has been appreciated. All of this is directly counterbalanced by the financing of Kremlin propaganda channels with Estonia’s own public sector money.”

Noted in the inquiry submitted to the minister is the fact that a report was compiled by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu a year ago that, among other things, drew attention to the use of hostile television channels in influencing activity against Estonia and Western countries more broadly, and that Estonia’s Internal Security Service and several experts have likewise referred to the same problem for years.

“These are TV channels that are an important part of the Kremlin’s information and influencing campaigns and which serve the broader purpose of generating and spreading narratives that are useful to the Kremlin as well as creating tensions in the West by spreading lies and arranging conscious information attacks,” the inquiry reads.

The Reform MPs who signed the inquiry requested that the interior minister, who is responsible for Estonia’s internal security, provide an assessment of the situation in which Estonia’s public sector money is directed to channels hostile toward Estonia and Western countries more broadly.

The MPs also want to know whether the Ministry of the Interior and its area of government have stopped buying air time from PBK and what the Ministry of the Interior has done to stop the financing of hostile TV channels by Tallinn, Estonia’s largest municipality.

Helme must also answer whether and what legislative changes he deems necessary to stop the channeling of Estonian taxpayers’ money into the Kremlin’s propaganda channels and whether the interior minister, contrary to the general practices of the Estonian government, intends to continue giving interviews to the news agency Sputnik after Estonian law enforcement authorities identified violations of Europea Union sanction law in connection with Sputnik’s Estonian arm.

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