YouTube channel ARU TV offers an alternative to Russian propaganda in post-Soviet countries
The internet has been taken over by a series of films called The Russian World, which aims to resist Russian propaganda and describe how Russians really live abroad in various countries. The series was launched by ARU TV, which is based in Tallinn.
ARU TV believes that its project is an alternative to a Kremlin political project which has the same name.
The President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and many other Russian leaders, have spoken on multiple occasions about the importance of supporting Russian communities abroad; in other words, the Russian world that exists abroad in post-Soviet countries. However, in many of these countries, this project has been received as a post-imperial attempt by Moscow to regain control over the former republics of the Soviet Union by appealing to ethnic Russians. Many believe that the annexation of Crimea by Russia is one of the latest results of the Kremlin’s ‘Russian World’ project.
ARU TV has released three episodes in its new series which concerned Russians living in Estonia, Latvia and Belarus.
In Estonia, if one takes ARU TV at its word, it is increasingly less common to meet Russian-speakers, especially among the younger generation. The main population of Russian-speakers that live in the country are elderly people who ended up in Estonia during the USSR. Moreover, the migration policy of Estonia can be considered rather lenient, the film’s producers say.
Estonian youth rarely know Russian because there is no necessity to do so. Young people leave for Scandinavia, Germany or the UK if they want to work abroad – but not for Russia.
The film’s producers say that the governments that have come into power over the course of the past 25 years since the fall of the Soviet Union have implemented policies that have resulted in 95 % of the country’s workplaces being occupied by Latvians.
However, one fourth of the country’s population are ethnic Russians, one of whom is the mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov.
Aleksandr Lukashenko has held the presidency of Belarus for 23 years, and has long believed that cooperation with Russia is of vital importance. He often calls Russians and Belarusians ‘brothers’. Lately, his position has changed course – Belarus has tighter ties with the West, and the relationship between Lukashenko and Putin has worsened.
Russians make up only eight percent of the population of Belarus. However, Russian is one of two state languages, and two-thirds of the population say that Russian is their mother tongue.