Throughout the month of February pro-Kremlin media focused on two disinformation narratives against Estonia: that the country is actively pursuing anti- Russian rhetoric and the rights Russian the minorities are discriminated in Estonia. The analysis has shown that the number of articles containing disinformation in February was 70% higher when compared to January.
In February 2021, Debunk EU identified 308 articles containing disinformation related to Estonia. The main topic (111 articles) focused on Estonia’s actions towards Russia throughout the month. One example is the pro-Kremlin media’s misinterpretation of the publication of the intelligence yearbook “Estonia in the international security environment 2021” by Estonian Foreign Intelligence Department. Pro- Kremlin media predominantly focused on the part of the publication where Russia is referred to as one of the main threats to Estonia’s security. The second example is misrepresentation of facts behind Estonia’s decision to expel a Russia diplomat.
Also, in February, ‘Human rights are violated in the country’ related narratives were observed. The sub- narrative which alleges that Russian minorities are persecuted in Estonia was predominant. That claim was based on an ill-worded comment on Facebook by the Chairman of the EKRE faction of Tallinn City Council Mart Kallas.
Nevertheless, the application of specific narrative continued to remain reactive, rather than planned, as messages tended to correlate more with sound statements and/or events of national or international significance, but not between themselves.
Main narrative and sub-narrative used to slander Estonia was Country/organization is Russophobic – Estonia pursues anti-Russian policy.
Distribution within mentions suggests that in their production, amplification and dissemination, digital media outlets, this month tended to focus on Estonia specifically, abstaining from more abstract and/or general statements, addressing the issues of interest. Nonetheless, ‘problematic information’ continued to remain the outcome of both reactive and pro-active negative responses to Estonian foreign and domestic subjects.
After the analysis of the data, it became clear that three pro-Kremlin sources, baltnews.ee, sputniknews.ru and news-front.info, were the top three media sources responsible for the spread of content containing disinformation. The disinformation detected in February potentially reached close to 139 million contacts.
Debunk EU analysts use multiple tools to deliver reports:
· DebunkEU analysis platform
· CrowdTangle - Facebook tool that tracks interactions on public content from Facebook pages and groups, verified profiles, Instagram.
· Truly Media - collaboration platform developed to support primarily journalists in the verification of digital content.
· TruthNest - Twitter data analysis platform.