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Latvian portals continue to promote Kremlin narratives
 30 Mar 2023
Already in March 2022, the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP) blocked more than 70 Russian websites, explaining that they contained “a Russian narrative that accused Ukraine of starting a war, justified military activities, and accused the Ukrainian side of war crimes.” At the same time, the broadcasting of some Russian and Belarusian TV channels was also banned - also because of propaganda narratives, Delfi writes.

Pro-Russian narratives have remained in the Latvian media, but now, after the change in the country's information policy, the propaganda works more subtly. A popular technique is the use of Kremlin narratives to formally provide multilateral coverage of events. That's just one of the parties represented speaks almost in the voice of Solovyov and Skabeeva.

A striking example is how different media cover the language reforms in Latvia. According to the law schools will now completely switch to the Latvian language of instruction: from the 2025/2026 academic year, teaching in all schools will be in the state language. For national minorities, special programs created by local governments should be implemented.

The media, of course, publishes news about this reform, but supposedly, to balance opinions, they simultaneously promote the Kremlin narratives, even if this means cutting the words of the speakers out of context.

Sites like press.lv cannot (at least often) publish explicitly Russian propaganda, so they work more subtly - when reprinting or rewriting other people's materials, they replace the title, making it more “yellow” and, by some coincidence, surprisingly fitting into what Russian propaganda says about Latvia.

For example, the original article on rus.tv.net looks like this: “For united schools, not ex-Russian and Latvian ones. About profanity during the transition to the state language. And here is how press.lv rewrites this text: The original title emphasizes that society must be united, and not aggravate the already existing split. And in the changed title, there is a hint that the Latvians allegedly do not want to study with the Russians. The second idea fits perfectly into the Kremlin narrative about Russophobia in the Baltics.

About Russophobia in Latvia, local media, which are, as it were, in a gray zone (they use more subtle methods of propaganda), write as about an objective fact. The bb.lv website even has the corresponding hashtag Russophobia. There are only eight articles on the hashtag, but they all came out after February 24, 2022, that is, after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Separately, the texts about the war itself are published under the hashtag war of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. For some reason, under the materials about the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories, the hashtag occupation is not put in most cases.

Among the articles mentioned above about the so-called Russophobia in Latvia, the text about the personal experience of the actress Agatha Muceniece is especially interesting. In 2022, she traveled from Russia to Latvia in a car with Russian license plates and once drove it to a supermarket where she parked in a place for people with disabilities. A company passing by began to knock on her window - people wanted the actress to move the car, since she did not have the appropriate sticker on the glass. And she agreed to do it, "if it's so important."

And after Muceniece went to the supermarket, this company approached her again to get acquainted, and, judging by the description, they chatted a little calmly. Here is the conclusion the heroine made from this situation: “As a result, the initial aggression is gone. For me, it's a sign that people still love each other." She also said that it was important for her to break the stereotype that all Russians are bad.

Obviously, the actress did not understand why she was asked to move the car, and considers this situation a manifestation of Russophobia, since she tells her in response to the question if she had ever encountered this very Russophobia in Latvia. And the bb.lv portal prints it without any comments and provides the text with the appropriate hashtag.

Press.lv also writes about Russophobia in Latvia as an objective reality. For example, here: "It is safer to consider absolutely all Russians as bad. A Latvian journalist explained why Russophobia flourishes in Latvia . "Like bb.lv, this edition was inspired by a Facebook post by Frederik Ozols. But the point is not that the publications decided to print his words, but that the author of the post “explains” why Russophobia flourishes in Latvia. He does not “think,” he does not “think,” but he explains. Thus, we read supposedly not the private opinion of a single person, but an expert analysis of an objectively existing phenomenon.
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