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This is a copy of Re:Baltica’s English newsletter, sent on Aug 30, 2018. If you want to receive newsletters like this via e-mail, sign up!


Good Thursday morning!

One big thing…

Inside the Kremlin Propaganda Factory

In recent years there has been much talk of Russian propaganda media in Eastern Europe. We can offer a unique insight into how this works day-to-day.
Together with colleagues from Serbia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia and the US, we have done research all summer on a study showing how Moscow has for years been financing and dictating the content of “independent” Russian-language news sites in the Baltic countries – Baltnews. The English-language version of the study was done together with our partner Buzzfeed. You can read it in English here and in Russian here.

2. August voter polls are out, with no big surprises

  • August voter polls show that the populist KPVLV party (7.5%) has maintained its high rating, placing it among the long-term political “heavyweights” such as the “social democratic” Harmony (21.5%) and the Greens and Farmers’ Alliance (11.5%)
  • Still on top is pro-Russian Harmony which has always remained in opposition despite having the single largest voter support.
  • The re-branded centrist-liberal New Unity (the old Unity and a few regional parties) passed the 5% barrier for seating in the Saeima for the first time.
  • Read more here.

3. Party campaign spending quickly burning up legal limits

The anti-corruption agency KNAB, which oversees the financing of political party campaigns, has published an infographic in Latvian of how much parties have spent of their legally allowed election campaign limits so far. The red shows how much has been spent, the green, what is still remaining.

  • The ceiling for this election is EUR 533 347 and is being rapidly approached by Harmony and the Greens and Farmers’ Alliance.
  • Our observations through our social media monitoring project show that Harmony uses advertising on social media the most, publishing around 80 ads per week, with the other parties averaging around 15.
  • We gather political advertisements on Facebook by using the ProPublica tool Ad Collector. Every week we summarize and publish the results in a PowerPoint presentation. Check here.

4. Police arrest youths for spreading fake news

Last week something a bit unbelievable happened – the Latvian police detained two youths on suspicion of publishing fake news, some of it of a very disturbing nature – the crash of a Latvian airliner and the collapse of a shopping center building.

  • We have previously researched and reported that there are three main fake news distribution networks in Latvia. One was run by a 22-year old rap musician, the other by his minor (underage) fan Arturs. Read about it in Russian here.
  • Off the record information I obtained by a source reveals that the police asked the youths to delete their fake news pages in their presence in order to mitigate their punishment.
  • The Re:Baltica team is pleased that the police acted. Meantime, we think that the youths should get an “educational/rehabilitative” punishment, like raking leaves in the park. On the other hand, some would say, lock them up for shock effect.

Thank you for reading!
Inga (journalist and co-founder of Re:Baltica)

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