President of the European Commission
José Manuel Barroso
Rue de la Loi 200
Copies to: Commissioners Kallas, Piebalgs, Šemeta, Rehn, Füle, Vassiliou
Dear President Barroso,
In providing information support for the occupation and annexation of Crimea, Russian state controlled media has turned into a propaganda machine radicalizing the Russian-language information space across the European Union.
Misinformation directed at large groups of Russian-speaking European citizens can destabilize the political situation in European countries with considerable Russian diasporas.
Up to a quarter of Estonian population, one third of Latvian population and up to 15% of Lithuanian population – mostly native Russian speakers – have been exposed to Kremlin TV propaganda for years. Channels like PBK, RTR Planeta, NTV Mir broadcast entertainment mixed with news and current affairs programming reflecting the views and values of Putin regime.
Moreover, as different political circles in these countries perceive the threat from escalated propaganda, they have called for bans on Russian TV-stations and media channels. As history has often shown, banning information channels does not weaken propaganda, but may even increase its impact. In addition to being technically impossible, such bans do not coincide with European ideas and values.
We see that Europe needs Russian-language news sources that rely on strong journalistic values. We also understand that individual countries lack the resources to build and maintain such channels.
Therefore we put forward an idea to build a joint European Russian-language TV station that would be financed inside the EU framework. We tentatively call it Голос Европы (Voice of Europe).
This kind of a station should ideally be located in a country or countries that already have Russian-speaking minorities, since they have access to Russian talent and sources. We believe that such a station should also hire journalists from Russia, who lack opportunities for free self-expression today. Thus we suggest that one of the Baltic capitals or Helsinki is well positioned as a location of such a station. The station could use the capabilities, infrastructure and Russian services of the public broadcasting companies of EU countries. Of course, such questions are open to further debate.
We emphasize that the Голос Европы (Voice of Europe) should operate as an independent newsroom based on the editorial values of free media. It should not be a propaganda operation. The Голос Европы (Voice of Europe) should provide fact-based news, platform for discussion and quality entertainment.
Using the following roadmap, and with political and financial backing from European Comission, the Голос Европы (Voice of Europe) project could be up and running in 8 months:
– May 2014. Setting up a cooperative task-force / NGO;
– June-September 2014. Creating a a conceptual framework;
– September-December 2014. Hiring and technical preparations;
– January 2015. Launch.
We believe that time is right for this initiative and we hope that the idea will get your attention.
Former and present journalists from:
Anvar Samost, former editor-in-chief, journalist, candidate to the European Parliament
Mikael Pentikäinen, former editor-in-chief, journalist, candidate to the European Parliament
Gatis Madžiņš, journalist, editor-in-chief, Diena
Arturas Račas, journalist, former editor-in-chief