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Russia Slams Press Freedom Watchdog for Giving Estonia High Marks Despite Sputnik Row

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Sputnik Estonia - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Estonia's high score in the World Press Freedom Index does not reflect persecution that forced Sputnik to close its Tallinn office, the Russian embassy in the Baltic nation said on Wednesday.

Estonia slipped three places down on the annual press freedom list of 180 countries, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, after ranking 11th in the spring of 2019.

"This change [in ranking] does not come close to reflecting the brutal pressure faced by the Russian outlet. Sputnik was 'guilty' only of having an opinion on events in Estonia, which, admittedly, did not always match that of the government," the embassy stated.

Moscow's diplomatic mission accused the media watchdog of being "short-sighted" for ignoring the assault on Russian media, a move that was acknowledged by the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Federation of Journalists.

"It is obvious to us that this ranking has nothing to do with protecting freedom of the media," the embassy said.

Journalists working for Sputnik were threatened with criminal charges late last year if they did not ditch the agency by January 2020. Estonia went from threatening staff to forcefully closing the outlet, citing EU sanctions over Ukraine, which targeted the head of Sputnik's umbrella organization.

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