Estonia one of the best in the EU at combating Russian disinformation

Estonia is one of the best in the European Union at combating Russian disinformation, according to a recent report by a Czech-based think tank, European Values.

The latest edition of the yearly “Prague Manual” gives Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the highest score (15) for these countries’ efforts to combat Russian disinformation. All these countries receive a perfect score in political acknowledgement of the threat, government counteractivities and counterintelligence activities.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are followed by Sweden and the UK who each received the score of 13. Both the UK and Sweden fell short in political acknowledgement of the threat and counterintelligence activities.

The Prague Manual puts the 28 EU countries in five categories. The first category, consisting of the five aforementioned countries, are called “the full-scale defenders”, meaning that “These countries are exemplary in addressing disinformation with comprehensive counter-measures and long-term resilience building. Their main goals are to help other countries get on their level by pro-active international advocacy, providing more lessons learned and education and experience exchange amongst European countries,” according to the report.

“The awakened” and “the hesitant”

The second category in the Prague Manual is “the awakened”, consisting of Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Romania, France, the Netherlands and Spain. “The awakened countries are usually the ones which have already established a resilience to disinformation or have begun to work on specific counter-measures in various areas,” the report notes. “Even though their activities might be more comprehensive, they might still lack sufficient coordination or lack some crucial components in order to be able to protect the country against Kremlin ́s subversive influence completely.”

Jakub Janda, one of the co-authors of the Prague Manual.The third category is called “the hesitant”, and it consists of Belgium, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ireland and Croatia. “Hesitant countries do not generally consider countering Kremlin ́s hostile subversion a priority on the political level, however they already have some initiatives in the governmental or non-governmental level underway,” according to the report.

The “in denials” and the “collaborators”

The fourth category, “in denial”, lists the countries that face “challenges posed by the attitude of national governments, but there are visible bits and pieces of established NGOs or individual policy-makers who are concerned and actively try to dedicate their work to countering the Kremlin ́s influence”. These countries are Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Malta, Luxembourg, Austria and Hungary, according to the think tank.

And the last category among the EU28 is “collaborators” – these are the countries “where the government is denying the existence of the disinformation threat or even welcomes and assists Russian efforts to spread its influence”. Only two countries are listed in this category – Greece and Cyprus.

The author of the report, European Values, is a Prague-based non-profit, non-governmental policy institute defending liberal democracy. Its Prague Manual is a report that reviews the European Union countries once a year and rates their response to the threat of Russian disinformation campaigns.

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The cover photo is illustrative.

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About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor at Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain, the UK and all around the US, he now resides in Chicago, IL. He loves to write and besides working at Estonian World and doing some occasional blogging, he writes books and contributes to other outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at sten@estonianworld.com.