The news website Sputnik has actually stopped working in Estonia, Elena Cherisheva, Head of the Russia Today office in the Republic of Estonia, says.
“Starting January 1, we have been deprived of the opportunity to work for you. Estonia’s Police and Border Guard department delivered an ultimatum to each of us: either we break labour contracts with the international news agencies Russia Today and no longer work for Sputnik Estonia, or they open criminal cases against us,” the statement reads.
The employees were forced to terminate working relationships with Sputnik Estonia and the Russia Today agency, Cherisheva claims.
According to her, the website will resume its work in full, but it will take them some time to organize it in such a way so that its journalists could not be ‘under constant pressure from the Estonian authorities’.
The Russia Today (Rossiya Segodnya) agency was established in 2013 after Vladimir Putin’s signing a corresponding decree. It is headed by well-known Russian propagandists Dmitry Kiselyov (Director General), and Margarita Simonyan (editor in chief).
Among others, Russia Today includes the news agency RIA Novosti and a number of Sputnik news sites, one of which is at play in Belarus. The media outlets are accused of thinly veiled propaganda of the so-called Russian World, justifying the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s aggression in the east of Ukraine as well as hailing Putin’s political decisions.
The media brand Sputnik was designed by agency (Russia Today) for a global audience. In 2014, the agency announced Sputnik’s broadcasting in 30 languages (incl. Arabic, Chinese, Crimean Tatar, English, Estonian, French, Deutsch, Georgian, Japanese, Latvian, Moldovian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Ukrainian), with over 800 hours of radio programming daily, covering over 130 cities in 34 countries. Up to 100 journalists – ‘local professionals’ were expected to work at each Sputnik centre.