Security agency: Russia sent own right-wing extremists to Estonia for Nazi labeling

Andres Einmann
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Sticking labels on Estonia is typical for Russian propaganda and there have been cases where right-wing extremists have been brought in from Russia to display Nazi symbols during Estonian events, Estonia's Internal Security Service (ISS) says in its yearbook for 2016 published on Wednesday.

"We have noticed a tendency to delegate right-wing extremists from Russia to Estonian events in order to publicly display Nazi symbols, which leads to media coverage of this 'social problem' in Estonia. One of the best examples from last year is the attempted provocation where the St. Petersburg skinhead Aleksei Maksimov was sent to Estonia to be captured on film as a 'local Nazi activist'," the yearbook says.

Maksimov crossed the border dressed in clothes that covered his arms and legs, but when going to the memorial event for the fallen in the Battle for the Tannenberg Line, he changed into clothes that revealed his neo-Nazi tattoos, including a swastika.

"The Kremlin-controlled media was naturally eager to pick this up as an example of events in Estonia. As they had to send in an activist from St. Petersburg to play the role, it showed that the label was difficult to stick and the methods suggest desperation," ISS says.

The Kremlin is attempting to make greater use of the internet and social media in its anti-West, including anti-Estonian, influence operations. This is to save costs rather than to keep up with the times or pioneer novel opportunities. Remarkably, the Kremlin's anti-Estonian influence projects had financial problems in 2016, it stands in the yearbook.

"Russian media projects are being created to influence the Russian-speaking people in foreign countries and also the policies of their countries of residence. Although the desired result is often not achieved, such attempts are not being waived but are rather becoming more consolidated. The activities of the Baltnews propaganda portals, which are targeted at Russian-speaking communities in the Baltic states and have been mentioned in earlier annual reviews of ISS, are coordinated by several employees of Rossiya Segodnya," ISS says.

These coordinators also regularly communicate recommended topics to the offices of Sputnik, the official sub-division of Rossiya Segodnya. Messages of Russia distributed through the entire network are coordinated in this way. Rossiya Segodnya also obliges the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Baltnews portals to cooperate with the Sputnik offices and to support and repeat the news they publish.