Estonian government threatens journalists with criminal proceedings

Journalists from the Russian Sputnik news agency in Estonia are facing threats from the Estonian authorities, who have demanded they stop cooperating with the agency's parent organisation “Rossiya Segodnya.” The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the threats.

Photo credit: IFJ

Employees of Sputnik Estonia received a warning from the Estonian Police Department and the Border Guard, to stop cooperating with the International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya by January 1, 2020. According to the news agency, the Estonian government justified this move by mentioning sanctions imposed by the EU on March 17, 2014 against a number of Russian individuals and legal entities in the light of events in Ukraine.

On the website of Sputnik News, Rossiya Segodnya announced it will turn to the United Nations (UN), and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with an appeal to assess the situation.

According to IFJ Vice President and Russian Union of Journalists Executive Secretary, Tim Shafir, these threats are an unprecedented fact of pressure on the media: “The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board actions are a gross violation of the journalists’ rights and freedom of speech. The threat of criminal proceedings only for the fact of cooperation with the Russian media goes beyond all existing norms. What is particularly surprising is the fact that the majority of Sputnik Estonia office employees are Estonian citizens, so we can observe that the government applies repressive actions not only to the Russian media, but also to Estonians.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We are concerned by the current situation of Sputnik journalist in Estonia. Media professionals should be allowed to freely carry out their duties, without threats from higher authorities. We call on the Estonian government to respect press freedom, regardless of the journalists’ nationality.


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