Editorial: the marginal score a point

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Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

Alas, anonymous bloggers behind the Finnish «Todelinnen Tallinna» have achieved their assumed end: sowing ill will in Estonia-Finland relations – as high up as possible. 

All of that due to bickering between Finnish freelance journalist Risto Vuorinen and Estonian presidential adviser Iivi Anna Masso in social media. On his Facebook site, Mr Vuorinen shared a post by said blog and offered it praise. Thereat, Mr Masso tweeted about Mr Vuorinen spreading and stirring Kremlin propaganda and advised against giving him interviews. To that, YLE foreign news chief Elina Ravantti replied they found no fault with journalistic work of Mr Vuorinen. Yesterday, Finnish Association of Journalists also weighed in, its chairman saying it was weird with boycott suggested against a journalist from office of Estonian President.

From the very beginning, the thing got messed up real bad. The immediate cause of anger by Ms Masso was not the quality of Mr Vuorinen’s journalism, but the sharing and praising of a propagandist blog post personally insulting towards her. In the interview by Mr Vuorinen to Postimees, the man seems totally in the dark as to what disturbed Ms Masso so.

Meanwhile, Ms Masso claims to have suggested the boycott as a private person, not one representing Office of the President. Humanly speaking, the claim is understandable and credible; even so, for many it came across as a statement from Office of the President and attack against freedom of speech. A regrettable picture has been painted: power persecuting a journalist, trying to suppress freedom of expression. The very fact of the President forced to issue explanations is far from good.

Coming back to the abovementioned anonymous blog post: reading the text, one must agree with the essence of Ms Masso’s assessment. This is a propagandist text, its message and makeup no different from earlier such stuff. No new facts to be found there, while an obvious attempt is made to cast a conspiracy type image regarding Estonian foreign policy, and to thoroughly smear specific individuals. Personal and gross insults abound especially towards Ms Masso.

Though anonymous by format, the style hints at what kind of people are pushing the thing. For years, a bunch of people rather little-known in Finland have attempted to provoke conflicts between Estonians and Finns, while posing as a standard to what Finns «actually» think of Estonians. Let’s admit: the bait has been taken by Estonian publications as well.

Does Iivi Anna Masso (as a citizen) have the right to protect herself from insults while warning of propaganda? Sure. Even so, the suggestion to boycott journalist Risto Vuorinen was not a befitting reaction. A representative of state powers ought not to casually issue such advice even when sincerely thinking to pose as private person – as we can see, it comes across different. Easy to imagine, at the moment, the anonymous bloggers beaming about such success – while defeat is the lot of Ms Masso, Mr Vuorinen, and Estonia-Finland relations.