Influence activities

An important activity of the Estonian Internal Security Service is prevention of foreign influence activities endangering the constitutional order of Estonia. The main concern here is the attempts made by agencies of Russia, including special services, to influence the domestic policy of Estonia. In different times different agencies of Russia have taken an active approach towards Estonia but mostly it is conducted under the political pretext of Russian compatriots. Hereby it is still necessary to distinguish between a normal interest a state takes in the welfare of its citizens and compatriots as well as language and cultural support and the unjustified intention to influence a decision-making process of another state by resorting to the finances and rhetoric meant for the support of its compatriots.

The controversy is best illustrated by the statement made by Lavrov concerning the compatriots programme on 16 January 2009, "There will be no activity or decisions which would mean interference in the affairs of the states where these compatriots are residing" and yet on 20 January 2009 after the meeting at the Embassy of the Russian Federation the Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots in Estonia which convenes at the Russian Embassy and operates with the participation of Russian diplomats, including the ambassador, exhorted Russian-speaking candidates of the European Parliament elections to draw up joint lists.

Instead of promoting culture and language, Russia has invested in its compatriots as an important foreign political attribute. It is noteworthy that the individuals associated with the Coordination Council are the most vehement accusers of Estonia. The other characteristic feature is the participation of Russia's "frontline compatriots" in elections but the number of votes gained indicates that they are entitled to speak only on behalf of a few dozen people.

In the case of Estonia it has predominantly remained within the limits of information war and attempts to influence domestic policy but the warfare conducted by Russia in Georgia in 2008 shows clearly how big a threat it can really be.