Kremlin’s embassy to the rescue: useful idiots face defeat in information warfare in the Baltics22.07.2020
Latvia has began actively combating the Kremlin’s disinformation. Institutions responsible for security and maintaining a healthy media environment are vigorously working on lessening the extent of media manipulating public opinion, particularly in cases where lies are used to sow distrust about the legitimacy of the state. In the last year, media watchdogs, including the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), have conducted thorough research to prove that several Russian media outlets operate to discredit Latvia and taken appropriate steps to restrict their possibilities to spread false information and manipulate public opinion.
In accordance with Latvian and international law, Latvia implemented security measures to restrict the spread of discrediting information in attempts to lessen the negative impact of these media outlets in Latvia. These measures include administrative fines and bans on rebroadcasting and targeted several media outlets, including Russia Today (RT), Sputnik, 1Baltijas kanāls and Rossija RTR.
This has led do visible panic among the Kremlin’s disinformation mouthpieces. This is evidenced by the fact that one of the most popular narratives of the Kremlin’s useful idiots that “the Baltic states were not occupied, they willingly joined the USSR” is being disseminated via Russia’s diplomatic channels. It’s not that this is the first time something like this happens, but previously these were the opinions of completely unknown experts. Now, the times have changed and the Kremlin’s useful idiots are beginning to lose the information war.
This is why the Kremlin’s liars are receiving help from Russia’s embassies in the Baltic states, and these embassies try to keep up with modern times by actively publishing pro-Kremlin narratives in social media in attempts to rewrite history. However, these social media entries do not spark pro-Kremlin discussions, because the majority of Latvians choose not to be silent and directly reply with information sources that disprove the Kremlin’s lies. In its Twitter account, the Russian Embassy in Latvia continues the information campaign, launched by pro-Kremlin media outlets some 30 or more years ago, and is actively spreading the narrative that the Baltic states were never occupied and that Latvia willingly joined the Soviet Union. Of course, this has long been disproven and it is an internationally recognized fact that the USSR occupied the Baltic states and launched repressions against anyone who would or could object to it. Hundreds of thousands of Baltic citizens were killed during Stalin’s terror, and intelligentsia and anyone who could threaten the Soviet regime were sent to labor camps somewhere in Russia – mainly to Siberia – while the rest were mobilized and fell in the field of battle where they shouldn’t have been in the first place. What is more, the statement that all of this was done with good intentions lost all credibility when the order for these deportations was issued, because the order on the forceful displacement of anti-Soviet elements from the Baltic states was issued already before the occupation. Therefore, the forcible annexation of the Baltic states by the USSR was a premeditated act of aggression against them.
Moreover, the statement published by the Russian Embassy doesn’t mention several facts about the voting process. According to the published data, only the “correct” list of candidates was allowed to take part in the “voting” on joining the USSR. And the propaganda photographs depicting masses of people willingly heading to vote for joining the USSR are fake, because the voting process was supervised by the Red Army which threatened anyone who didn’t want to participate. The results of the voting were announced even before the voting had concluded, and there is historical evidence that the number of people who participated in the voting exceeds the number of eligible voters in particular regions. For instance, in the Latvian town of Auce 1,912 people had voted, but the number of eligible voters was only 1,700, and there were many more towns where this was the case. Does this mean that people were so eager to join the USSR that they were allowed to vote more than once? The truth is that the new citizens of the Latvian SSR – the polite soldiers of the occupying army – also took part in the vote.
This tragic era for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is a reminder to everyone about the terror of the Soviet regime, and by attempting to deny this the Russian Embassy in Latvia is disrespecting not only the Baltic states, but the entire international community. Germany too could “play dumb” and try to convince everyone that Hitler only wanted good and that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed with “good intentions” in mind. But Germany doesn’t do this. Germany doesn’t have its own propaganda channels that spread statements about falsifying history and the Baltic communists that attacked Hitler’s poor troops and blamed the helpful Nazis for committing war crimes. Instead, Germany is aware of its unpleasant past, repents its actions and lives in the present time.
This time it isn’t about the stability of the political or economic system, but instead about the never-ending attempts by Russia to rewrite commonly known historical facts, as well as its inability to look to the future in order to shape Russia as a stable and independent region. A similar opinion was voiced by Edgars Rinkēvičs, who expressed regret that the falsification of history and election results is still common in modern Russia.
Baiba Zile, Latvian journalist