Deception - the Case of latvia

A series of articles by the Centre for Eastern European Studies

CEEPS: Deception – The Case of Latvia #23

By Arnis Latišenko, Researcher of the Centre for Eastern European Policy Studies

The story of Latvian ‘Russophobia’ continues. The easiest way to react to the criticism of the policy of Kremlin is via calling opponent Russophobe. Following the analogy, should those who criticize the Latvian Government should be called ‘government-phobes’, meanwhile should the Russian representatives, who criticize the Latvians, be called ‘latvianphobes’ or ‘lettiphobes’? Shifting the discussion of Vladimir Putin’s destructive foreign policy to a dimension of ethnic relations has been a common practise for Russia’s propagandists.

Political party ‘Saskana’ and Nils Usakovs act similarly, by trying to distract attention from numerous corruption scandals in Riga municipal enterprises. In 2017, the Russian Ambassador in Latvia Yevgeny Lukyanov in an interview with the magazine ‘Telegraf’ pointed out that there are no ‘Moscow’s hand’ and Russian propaganda in Latvia, but the phobias are inveterate.1

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the official spokeswoman of Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova too have not been selective in expressing their attitude towards the Balts. Let’s also remember Putin’s offered ‘donkey ears’ instead of [annexed region of] Abrene. Rudeness and offensive style are routines of Russian diplomacy. Russophobic themes appear in the March selection of deception examples, too. Although in this analysis usually are examined cases of Latvian topics, the last example is about Poland, to remind you that the Kremlin propagandists accuse of Russophobia not only the Baltic states and Ukraine, but also Poland.

This article was created for the Centre for East European Policy Studies (CEEPS) as a part of analytical material series with the goal to detect deception examples in the online content, disprove them and explain the misleading methods that are being used.

Deception: On March 1st, web site ‘Baltnews.lv’ published an article ‘How the US ‘adds oil’ to the Baltic Russophobia’.2 USA is trying to manipulate the Baltic countries and Poland, officials and the public, in order to achieve the support of the United States’ plans to deploy as much armaments in the Eastern Europe as possible. Russia only has to react to it.

Refutation: The publication is based on a deliberately distorted picture of the US- Latvia relations. Its aim is to demonstrate the alleged fact that the real aim of Latvian and NATO protection measures is to prepare for a possible provocation against Russia, to involve it in a military confrontation. Once again it is explained that instead of Balts wanting the Allied Forces presence in their national territories, the US is imposing it. In fact, the Baltic countries had to actively work, during the 90’ in order to convince the US to support us in the security field . Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians living in the United States were also involved. Today’s Russia’s aggressive foreign policy proves that there was a serious basis for doubting the Moscow’s intentions at the time. Russian deceivers hope that the target audience will not know the essence of US- Latvia relations. Reality does not fit into the Russia’s deceptive constructions, so it is ignored and a ‘parallel reality’, based on ‘alternative facts’ (read – lies!) is featured.

Deception: On March 1st, web site ‘Lv.sputniknews.ru’ published an article ‘What’s left is to indulge in porn: Latvia has reached a dead end, by disrupting the ties with the Russian Federation.’3 Latvian government’s movement towards the complete disruption of economic ties with Russia may end up with the Baltic countries remaining ‘outside the business environment’. Latvia’s economy is close to destruction, the people are left with nothing else but to focus on working in the porn industry.

Refutation: The purpose of the publication is to construct a version of the fact that the Latvian economy cannot develop fully without the involvement of Russia. It also gives the impression that Latvian – Russian economic relations are rapidly deteriorating. However, as seen in the data available in the web sites of Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Central Statistical Bureau, the trade volume two countries has not shown a decline over past years. Furthermore, export volumes to Russia have even increased. Despite the rhetoric of the media about the drop in transit and trade with Russia, the statistics for year 2017 show that, the total trade in goods with Russia has increased by 19.9% in the year 2017 relatively to the corresponding period in the year 2016. Latvia’s export of goods to Russia experienced particularly significant growth in the year 2017, increasing by 32% in comparison with the corresponding period of the year 2016.4 In Latvia’s export destinations, 1st semester of 2018, Russia takes the third place (following Lithuania and Estonia), in imports – the fifth place.5 Likewise, ‘Sputnik’ article wrongly associates Latvia’s economic indicators with Latvia’s citizens’ involvement in porn industry. Such a loud statement would need serious evidence base, that ‘Sputnik’, of course, does not offer.

Deception: On March 11, the Russian TV channel ‘Zvezda’ showed a discussion about security and Russia’s foreign policy, which was dominated by the idea of the US preparations for war with Russia. US missiles, even nuclear weapons, can be deployed in the Baltic States. Russophobia in the Baltic States is their only export product. Riga’s and Tallinn’s understanding of war is different from the US vision, as it’s based on the belief that it will be enough with a couple of NATO divisions and missiles, to have RF surrender. The presenter said that the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis has invited Europe to become united. Pro-Kremlin political scientist Armen Gasparyan noted that Vējonis ‘had no other option, since there will be a gay parade, which is also the SS parade, on March 16’.6

Refutation: A false information about the US plans to deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic countries that could be used for military aggression against Russia is spread. Russia’s citizens are being frightened with the possibility of a nuclear war in order to mobilize them around the ‘national leader’ Putin. It is not intended to deploy any nuclear weapons of the United States or any other country in Latvia. For comparison, during the Soviet occupation, nuclear weapons were deployed in the territory of Latvia. At that time, Latvia was one of the most militarized territories in the USSR. It is known that in 2005, Putin expressed his regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union. As for Gasparyan’s argument of Russophobia being the main ‘export product’ of Latvia, it is worth paying attention to the connection with the fact that Russia is the third largest Latvia’s export market…

Deception: On March 12, web site ‘Lv.sputniknews.ru’ published an article ‘Glazunov tells why the US arms Baltics and Ukraine.’7 According to the article a, in a possible case of military confrontation, the United States is going to use Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland as an impact force against Russia. For this reason, the US is systematically trying to incite Russophobia in the said countries. It was expressed that the United States implements not only the ‘cold’ version of war (sanctions, etc.), but prepares for the ‘hot’ version as well.

Refutation: The publication is based on a deceiving assumption that the US desires to attack Russia. The goal of publication is to fill up Latvia’s informational space with articles and interviews, that increase the fear and ignorance in public awareness, making it more receptive towards other deceiving messages about the United States and Latvia, spread in the public space. Cultivation of fear is a widespread disinformation method of the Russia. It was particularly actively used during the annexation of Crimea.

Deception: On March 22, web site ‘Baltnews.lv’ published an article “Liberators – the baddies, fascists – the goodies”: response in Russia to Poland’s reluctance to invite the Russian Federation to anniversary of the World War II.8 An opinion is expressed in the article that the Poland’s refusal to invite Russia to the commemoration events of outbreak of the World War II on its 80th anniversary confirms the fact that Russophobia has become established in Poland. Head of the Poland’s Presidential Administration Krzysztof Szczersky had allegedly explained that Warsaw has not invited Russia to the commemoration events because of ‘the international rights violations’ in year 1939.

Refutation: The publication is a vivid and quite typical example of the craft of Russia’s deceivers. It falsely claims that the Russian representatives of the commemorative events in Poland are not invited because of the events of 1939. In fact, the staff of Poland’s Presidential Administration, including the administrative director Szczersky , has explained that not inviting Russia to the commemorative events is not related to history. The reason is the violation of international law by Russian authorities today – the annexation of Crimea.9 At the same time these interpretations of the Poland’s refusal to invite Russia ensure the possibility of the Russia’s propaganda media to disseminate messages about how Poland is ‘rewriting history’.

1 Абик Элкин. Россия – за добрые отношения. Телеграф, 06.-08.2017. (2), 5.

2 Как США “подливаютмасло в огонь” русофобии в Прибалтике. 01.03.2019., Baltnews, https://baltnews.lv/riga_news/20190301/1022787150/kaksshapodlivayutmaslovogonrusofobiivpribaltike.html

3 Осталось податься в порно: Латвия оказалась в тупике, разрушив связи с РФ. 01.03.2019., Sputnik,

https://lv.sputniknews.ru/economy/20190301/11080728/podatsyapornolatviatupikrazrushilasvyazirussia.html

4 Ārlietu ministrija. Sadarbība ekonomikā. 24.04.2018., https://www.mfa.gov.lv/arpolitika/divpusejas-attiecibas/latvijas-un-krievijas-attiecibas.

5 Latvijas Republikas un Krievijas Federācijas divpusējās attiecības, 19.03.2019., https://www.mfa.gov.lv/arpolitika/divpusejas-attiecibas/latvijas-un-krievijas-attiecibas

6 Zvezda, 11.03.2019., https://tvzvezda.ru/schedule/programs/content/201808241352-z30e.htm/201903120825-a9n1.htm

7 Глазунов рассказал, зачем США вооружают Прибалтику и Украину. 12.03.2019., Sputnik, https://lv.sputniknews.ru/radio/20190312/11133985/GlazunovrasskazalzachemSShAvooruzhayutPribaltikuiUkrainu.html

8 “Освободители – плохие, фашисты – хорошие”: что ответили в России на нежелание Польши приглашать РФ на годовщину Второй мировой. 23.03.2019., Baltnews, https://baltnews.lv/riga_news/20190322/1022849312/polsharossiyavtorajamirovaja.html

9 Skatīt: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/21/polandsnubputinwwiianniversaryangerskremlin/un https://www.forumdaily.com/en/polshanepriglasilaputinanagodovshhinuvtorojmirovojvojnyrossiyavnedoumenii/.