The head of the Russian Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) addressed the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Duna Miyatovic, and OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Arlem Desir, due to pressure from Estonian authorities on Sputnik employees. This is stated in a message published on the HRC website on December 19.
“The Council asks Arlem Desir and Dunya Miyatovich to take the situation under their personal control and draw the attention of the Estonian authorities to the need to stop any pressure on the media and strict observance of European standards regarding freedom of the press and the rights of journalists,” the statement said.
The HRC expressed extreme concern about the actions of the Estonian authorities and noted that the requirements of the local police department are contrary to international standards that guarantee freedom of the media and the independence of journalists.
On December 18, it became known that criminal cases against Sputnik Estonia employees could be instituted in Estonia if they did not stop working for the Russia Today news agency before the end of December. They received letters with direct threats from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, and the reason was the EU sanctions of March 17, 2014, imposed against a number of individuals and legal entities from Russia.
The press-service of “Russia Today” called the incident an arbitrary and unprecedented violation of the freedom of speech of journalists and announced plans to appeal to the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and UNESCO to protect the right of media professionals to professional activities. Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia Today and RT, urged Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid not to allow the arrest of journalists in Estonian .
The Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry called the situation with Sputnik Estonia lying beyond the bounds of democracy and Estonia’s international obligations to ensure unhindered work of the media. The Russian Foreign Ministry also called on international structures and human rights non-governmental organizations to respond to what is happening.
The UN said on December 20 that they are trying to figure out the current situation, writes Gazeta.ru .