Disinformation campaigns about LGBTI+ people in the EU and foreign influence (excerpt), 2021

3. Cases of disinformation, misinformation and hate speech


3.1 ‘Colonialism’ by the West


According to a RAND report (Helmut et al. 2018), Russian actors are actively engaged in disseminating disinformation to Russian speakers in the Baltics, through a variety of means including traditional and social media. According to the report, in some cases Russia has used this outreach to sow dissent against host and neighbouring governments, as well as against the EU.


Briefing paper. 02.07.2021. ISBN: 978-92-846-8347-5 (pdf) Link: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2021/653644/EXPO_BRI(2021)653644_EN.pdf

The Most Resonant Human Rights Violations in Certain Countries (excerpt), 2021

The number of non-citizens in Estonia remains high and amounts to 5.3% of the total population. Systemic discrimination due to insufficient knowledge of the Estonian language does not cease and leads to a high level of unemployment and poverty among the non-Estonian-speaking population.

Following international commitments have been violated: ICESCR art. 6 (right to work) ICCPR art. 26 (right to equality before the law and equal protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status)

The arrest on 21 March 2021 of Sergei Seredenko, a lawyer and member
of the Estonian United Left Party not represented in the Riigikogu, on
suspicion of maintaining relations against the Republic of Estonia, has signs
of political prosecution.

Mr. Seredenko was a Russian human rights activist in Estonia from 2004
to 2014. Since 2014, he has been involved in scientific activities. He is the
author of the books «Prosecution of human rights ombudsmen in Baltic
States», «Ukrainianization of Baltic States: Export of political practices»,
«Right-wing radicalism in the party-political systems of modern European
states». He hosts the weekly human rights review on the Baltic States
«Political Corrector» on the web portal Baltnews.ee. His area of interest is
human rights, constitutional law, anti-fascist activities.
Due to his human rights’ activities Mr. Seredenko could not get a job in
Estonia in his specialty.

Following international commitments have been violated: ICCPR
art. 19 (freedom of opinion and expression) art. 26 (right to equality before the law and equal protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status)

The recognition by the Estonian Internal Security Service of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as a «threat» to the security of the Estonian state has signs of actions restricting religious freedoms (Report of the Estonian Internal Security Service, 2021).

The actions of the Estonian police on May 9, 2021 reveal signs of political persecution:

– detention on May 9, 2021 by the Estonian police representatives of the public association «Descendants of the Great Patriotic War veterans», who were on their way to the monument to the fallen of World War II to organize a guard of honor;

– summons for interrogation to the police of the member of the board of the Estonian public association «Russian Compatriots of Europe» Sergei Tšaulin, the organizer of the Victory Day rally, on the eve of the rally in order to cancel the rally, which would have become illegal without the participation of the organizer;

– stop and search of the Tšaulin’s car after his interrogation by the police at the same day. The police seized a poster with the symbols of the «Immortal Regiment» and bottles of liquid for lighting the fireplace. The police stated that Mr. Tšaulin was planning an unregistered public event.

Following international commitments have been violated: ICCPR art. 27 (right of national minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language )

Document data: Foreign ministry of Belarus. 30.06.2021 Link: https://mfa.gov.by/kcfinder/upload/files/GUMDI/doklad2_eng.pdf Also available in Russian: https://mfa.gov.by/kcfinder/upload/files/Press_Service/doklad_rus.pdf

HCNM statement to the 1318th Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council (excerpt), 2021

In April, I had some preliminary contact with Estonia’s authorities and a broad range of minority representatives. These meetings confirmed my office’s positive assessment of Estonia’s efforts to support the integration of its diverse society. Because Estonia has gained so much valuable experience along this path, I am planning to intensify our activities to share our Estonian partners’ experience with institutions working on inter-ethnic issues across the OSCE area. While I appreciate Estonia’s progress in several policy areas and increased government efforts in recent years to listen to minority communities, my conversations with representatives of national minorities highlighted specific concerns with the ongoing education reform, which I have asked the authorities to look into. In particular, the government’s plans and priorities for education aimed at enhancing knowledge of the State language in minority language schools and an ongoing reform of gymnasium-level education resulting in the merging of schools constitute a source of concern, especially among ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking community. While I praise the government for investing in strengthening State-language proficiency among minority communities, which will support their participation in higher education and employment, it is also important that opportunities for education in and of minority languages are preserved, especially in areas compactly inhabited by national minorities. Given the degree of ambiguity with regard to future changes, which may create fear and speculation, I advised the authorities to communicate transparently with minority communities and include them in relevant decision-making processes.

03.06.2021 HCNM.GAL/3/21/Rev.1 Link: https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/a/4/489767_0.pdf

Estonian Integration Monitoring 2020 (excerpt on media), 2021


The results for 2020 reveal that according to their self-assessment, people of other nationalities have been feeling increasingly more informed about what is going on in their locality and in Estonia over the last 12 years (70% in 2008, 87% and 89%, respectively, in 2020).

Another significant trend in the case of residents of other nationalities is that they are less informed about Russia (69% in 2008 and 59% in 2020): this indicator has reached the same level of how well they are informed about the European Union (59% in 2020).

Young people of other nationalities are significantly less informed about what is going on in Russia. People of Ida-Viru County differ from others in terms of regions; as based on their self-assessment, they are better informed about their home locality and Russia than about Estonia, the European Union and the rest of the world


A significant change has occurred in the rankings of the information sources important to other nationalities in the last three years, as they have started considering the local Russian-language media channels of Estonia more important and trustworthy than the Russian media sources.

The Russian-language news portals of Estonia have risen to the second spot in terms of importance as information sources after interaction with friends, relatives and acquaintances for residents of other countries (72%, only 54% in 2017). They are followed by the Russian version of the news programme “Aktuaalne kaamera” (64%) and only then the TV channels of Russia (61%, 71% in 2017).

The increase in the importance and trustworthiness of the Russian-language TV channel ETV+ (44% in 2017 and 55% in 2020) among residents of other nationalities (primarily for older generations) is also a noticeable change. The importance of local Russian-language media has also increased in the case of radio channels whilst the importance of national Russian-language newspapers has decreased somewhat.

Major differences can be seen in how trustworthy Estonian media channels are in the eyes of the Estonian residents. The opinions of Estonians have been stable: 84% of them trust the Estonian-language TV channels ETV and ETV2 and three quarters trust Estonian-language newspapers and news portals.

However, the share of those who trust the Russian- and Estonian-language media of Estonia among residents of other nationalities has increased considerably in three years. In 2017, the most trustworthy channels for this ethnic group were Perviy Baltijskyi Kanal (PBK) and other Russian TV channels, but the Russian-language Estonian TV channel ETV+ and local Russian-language newspapers and news portals have now overtaken them (the share of people who trust them has doubled).

Document data: Factsheet “MEDIA AND INFORMATION FIELD” on the results of the Monitoring the Integration of Estonian Society 2020. May 2021. Link: https://kul.ee/media/3149/download

Estonian Integration Monitoring 2020 (excerpts on education), 2021


Whilst the share of children attending Russian-language pre-schools has decreased from 23% to 15% from 2008–2020, the decrease in the share of basic school students learning in Russian has been slower: their number has dropped from 19% to 16% over the same period of time.




The biggest group of Estonians (82%) prefer pre-schools that only use the Estonian language and the biggest group of residents of other nationalities (37%) prefer two-way language immersion.


The first preference of approximately one-third of people of other nationalities (32%) is a basic school where the language of instruction is Russian and where some subjects are also taught in Estonian. The second preference is an Estonian-language school that provides in-depth training in another language and culture.

Forty-six percent of residents of other nationalities in total support the Estonian-language basic school in its different forms (incl. language immersion) and 44% in total support the different forms of the Russian-language basic school.

Document data: Factsheet “EDUCATION” on the results of the Monitoring the Integration of Estonian Society 2020. May 2021. Link: https://kul.ee/media/3145/download

Estonian Integration Monitoring 2020 (excerpts on language skills & interethnic relations), 2021


Compared to 2008, the general Estonian language proficiency of residents of other nationalities has improved. It’s positive that the share of people whose language proficiency is active has increased to 41% (from 32% in 2008): they understand and speak Estonian, and write in it. The share of residents who don’t speak any Estonian has also clearly decreased (from 20% in 2008 to 8% in 2020).


The (Estonian and Russian) language proficiency of Estonian residents differs significantly according to regions. For instance, only one-fifth of Ida-Viru County residents of other nationalities had active Estonian skills in 2020.

Half of Tallinn residents of other nationalities speak Estonian, and this indicator has improved considerably more than in Ida-Viru County when compared to 2008 (35%).

The Estonian language proficiency of people of other nationalities is strongly related to their age: young people speak Estonian better than older ones. In 2020, the share of those in this group who spoke Estonian was 62% among people up to 34 years of age and only 27% among people at least 65 years of age.

[..] The situation with the Russian language proficiency of Estonians is the opposite: older people speak Russian better and there are fewer people who speak the language in the younger age group.


English language proficiency has improved rapidly from 2008–2020, but the difference between the ethnic groups living in Estonia has remained similar: the number of people who understand, speak and write in English (active language skills) is almost twice as high among Estonians.

However, the share of people of other ethnicities who don’t speak English has dropped to 35% in comparison with 2017 (42%), which is close to the same indicator of Estonians



An analysis of people’s attitudes towards different language groups indicated that in general, residents of other nationalities view people whose native language is Estonian more positively than Estonians view people whose native language is Russian. There are only a few percentages among residents of other nationalities who are averse to close contact with people whose native language is Estonian. At the same time, the attitude of Estonian residents towards close contact with people of nationalities different from their own has become more favourable in the last ten years (2010–2020) irrespective of the ethnic group. The share of residents of other nationalities who looked favourably on being neighbours with many Estonian language speakers was 58% in 2010 and 72% in 2020. Forty-six percent of Estonians don’t have anything against many Russian speaking neighbours (only 23% in 2010).

Document data: Factsheet “LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY AND INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS” on the results of the Monitoring the Integration of Estonian Society 2020. May 2021. Link: https://kul.ee/media/3146/download

Kallas cabinet Governance agreement (excerpt), 2021

We will initiate an action plan for Estonian language education to give everyone an equal opportunity to participate in societal operations and the labour market, and to continue on the next education level. We will allocate the necessary funds for preschools and schools to enable them to organise studies in Estonian while also guaranteeing a quality education. 

25.01.2021. Link: https://www.valitsus.ee/en/governance-agreement-2021-2023

Hate crime data 2019 (Estonia), 2020

Estonia’s criminal code includes an incitement to violence provision. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for collecting hate crime data. Data on hate crime are regularly published as part of the ministry’s annual report on crime in Estonia.

How hate crime data is collected

Police officers are obliged to categorize each case reported to the police. Among other values (case type), it is possible to choose between three categories of hate crime:

1. Bias against race, religion origin;
2. Bias against sexual orientation and identity; and
3. Bias against other groups (disability and other social groups).

Methods for identifying hate crimes are described in an instruction prepared by the Ministry of Justice.

Law enforcement agents can mark the motive of a criminal case when the suspect has been identified. It is not obligatory to mark/select/define the motive of the crime because this is not required by the law. Law enforcement agents can choose “hate motive” (vaenumotiiv in Estonian) from the different classifications of motive in the electronic database – the Police Information System. This “hate crime flag” is currently not visible to prosecutors.

All reported crimes are recorded in an electronic system called E-File, which is used by several client-systems including the Police Information System and the Criminal Case Management Register used by prosecutors and investigative bodies. The E-File is an integrated central information system that provides all criminal justice bodies with access to criminal files and enables simultaneous exchange of information. Data entered in the MIS is simultaneously accessible by a prosecutor in the Criminal Case Management Register. The entered information can be further used and changed by the prosecutor in the prosecutors’ Register and sent if necessary to the courts information system (KIS). Later, the procedural information and the court decision can be delivered to the Information System of Prisons (VangIS).

The E-File is also used to generate crime statistics, including on hate crimes.

Select year: 2019


YearHate crimes recorded by policeProsecutedSentencedAbout these data
2019Not availableNot availableNot available
2018Not availableNot availableNot available
2017Not availableNot availableNot available
201615Not availableNot available
2015Not availableNot availableNot available


Total 7 incidents

2 – violent attacks against people3 – violent attacks against people1 – Attacks against property2 – violent attacks against people
Racism and xenophobiaBias against Muslims Bias against ChristiansAnti-Semitism

Kantor Center reported only statistical data. This explains the discrepancy between the graphic above and the incidents included below.

Download incident data

Racism and xenophobia

DateType of incidentSourceDescription
2019-02Violent attacks against peopleSETAA person was subjected to anti-Muslim and anti-Russian insults and physically assaulted.
2019-05Violent attacks against peopleSETAA Pakistani man was subjected to xenophobic insults and physically assaulted.

Bias against Muslims

DateType of incidentSourceDescription
2019-02Violent attacks against peopleSETAA person was subjected to anti-Muslim and anti-Russian insults and physically assaulted.
2019-08Violent attacks against peopleUNHCRA male asylum seeker working as a taxi driver was subjected to anti-Muslim insults and physically assaulted by a customer due to his perceived religion.
2019-12Violent attacks against peopleSETAA woman wearing a headscarf was spat at.

Bias against Christians

DateType of incidentSourceDescription
2019-12Attacks against propertyHoly SeeFour tombstones and a granite cross in a cemetery were overturned.


No information is available.


ODIHR observes that Estonia has not reported to ODIHR the numbers of prosecuted hate crime cases and information on sentenced hate crime cases.

Document data: published 16.11.2020. Link: http://hatecrime.osce.org/estonia?year=2019

Antisemitism – Overview of data available in the EU 2009–2019 (excerpt), 2020


Official data

The Estonian government informed FRA that, in 2019, the authorities recorded two crimes motivated by antisemitism (the motivation behind the incidents was recorded when the crimes were reported). No reported antisemitic incidents or crimes were recorded in 2015–2018.

In 2016 and 2017, the Ministry of Justice of Estonia published a chapter on suspected hate crimes reported to the police as a part of its Crime in Estonia crime statistics yearbook.48 The 2018 statistics concerning suspected hate crimes were published as a separate document.49

48 The reports are available at kriminaalpoliitika.ee.

49 https://www.kriminaalpoliitika.ee/et/vaenukuritegude-statistika-2018

Unofficial data

No unofficial data were available at the time this report was compiled.

Document data: Published: 10.09.2020 Print ISBN 978-92-9474-993-2 Link: https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2020-antisemitism-overview-2009-2019_en.pdf

CERD decision in M.T. v. Estonia (excerpts), 2020

1. The petitioner is M.T., an Estonian national of Russian ethnicity, born in 1981. He claims that the State party violated his rights under article 2 (2) of the Convention. Estonia acceded to the Convention on 21 October 1991 and made the declaration under article 14 on 21 July 2010.

Facts as submitted by the petitioner

2.1 On 27 July 2016, the petitioner applied for a new identity card with the Police and Border Guard Board of Estonia. He requested that his patronym be included in the newly issued identity card. On 31 August 2016, the Police and Border Guard Board decided to issue the new identity card without including the patronym of the petitioner. The reason for the refusal of the petitioner’s request was the domestic legal provisions, which provide for
the inclusion of first and last names in identification documents. Inclusion of a patronym is not provided for.

2.2 On 20 September 2016, the petitioner appealed to the Tallinn Administrative Court, asking it to require the Police and Border Guard Board to issue an identity card with his patronym, citing the State party’s obligations under article 11 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe,1 as well as concluding observations issued by the Committee. 2 On 23 February 2017, the Tallinn Administrative Court rejected the complaint. On 10 March 2017, the petitioner appealed against the judgment of the Tallinn Administrative Court at the Tallinn Circuit Court. On 15 November 2017, the Tallinn Circuit Court rejected the appeal. The reasoning of both courts was based on the following: domestic law, the Names Act and the Identity Documents Act in particular, does not provide for the possibility of including a patronym in an identification card; the Framework Convention is not directly applicable by the courts and applies only to the extent that it does not contradict domestic laws; and the recommendations of the Committee are not binding and the authorities decide which recommendations to implement. On 27 November 2017, the petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal on 12 February 2018.

2.3 The petitioner claims that his ancestors were Russian Old Believers who settled in the territory of modern Estonia in the seventeenth century. For the past 300 years they had been preserving their language and national culture without being assimilated into the Estonian population. For these people, a full name without a patronym destroys their national identity and offends their national dignity. According to Russian traditions, the lack of a patronym in a full name is considered to be a sign of disrespect; it can imply that the person belongs to a lower social class and/or that his or her father is unknown.


3. In his submission before the Committee, the petitioner claims that his rights under article 2 (2) of the Convention were violated by the refusal of the State party to record his patronym in his identification document


Issues and proceedings before the Committee

Consideration of admissibility

6.1 Before considering any claim contained in a communication, the Committee must decide, pursuant to article 14 (7) (a) of the Convention, whether the communication is admissible.

6.2 The Committee notes the State party’s argument under rule 91, subparagraph (b), of the Committee’s rules of procedure that the petitioner has not claimed violation of any material provision of the Convention and therefore lacks victim status. It also notes the State party’s arguments under rule 91, subparagraph (c), of the rules of procedure that the communication is inadmissible ratione materiae, and its arguments under rule 91, subparagraph (e), that the petitioner failed to exhaust domestic remedies. The Committee also notes the petitioner’s arguments in disagreement with the observations of the State party and his claim that the impossibility to include his patronym in the identification document amounts to racial discrimination.

6.3 The Committee notes that the definition of racial discrimination in article 1 (1) of the Convention clearly states that a fundamental element of such discrimination is that it has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. It is therefore necessary to establish whether the rights of the petitioner in the field of public life have been affected, and if so, which rights and/or freedoms are violated by the impossibility to include his patronym in the identification card. This brings the Committee to the State party’s first argument, under rule 91, subparagraph (b), of the rules of procedure, namely, that the petitioner has failed to indicate exactly which right protected by the Convention was violated in his case.

6.4 The Committee notes that the petitioner belongs to Russian minority, specifically, Russian Old Believers, to whom a patronym constitutes an essential part of the name. The Committee notes the petitioner’s claim that by not including his patronym in the identification document, the State party destroys his national identity and offends his national dignity, as part of the Old Believers community. At the same time, the Committee notes that, beyond this general claim, the petitioner did not furnish any concrete example whereby the lack of patronym in the identification card put him in an unequal position with respect to enjoying his rights in the field of public life, compared with other nationals of the State party. Neither has the petitioner provided concrete examples of negative effects that the lack of a patronym in the official identification document have had on his private relations within the Russian minority and in particular, the Russian Old Believers community.

6.5 In light of the above, the Committee finds that the petitioner has not presented sufficient indications to demonstrate that he was a victim of racial discrimination. The Committee considers that the petitioner has failed to sufficiently substantiate which rights under the Convention were violated in his regard, as required by rule 91, subparagraph (b), of its rules of procedure. Accordingly, it declares the communication inadmissible under article 14 (1) of the Convention. In light of this conclusion, the Committee decides that it is not necessary to examine any other inadmissibility ground invoked by the State party.

7. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination therefore decides:

(a) That the communication is inadmissible;

(b) That the present decision shall be communicated to the State party and to the petitioner.

Document data: CERD/C/101/D/64/2018 adopted 06.08.2020, published 25.08.2020 Link: https://undocs.org/CERD/C/101/D/64/2018