Estonian law enforcement officers are contributing to a Latvia-led investigation into possible EU sanctions infringements committed by the Baltijas Mediju Alianse (BMA) media company, which rebroadcasts Russian television channels including Channel One Russia and REN TV, the Estonian Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday.
"On 4 February, security service officers, on the basis of a request for legal aid, completed the requested procedural actions and are sending the relevant information to Latvian law enforcement authorities. The actions currently being undertaken only concern commercial activities, and do not concern the actions of the media, nor their content", the Prosecutor Office’s statement said.
Estonian representatives from BMA have declined to comment on the investigation.
Alexey Volin, Russian deputy minister of digital development, communications and mass media, said on Wednesday that the searches conducted on BMA’s office in Riga does not help improve Latvia’s damaged reputation regarding press freedom.
"This does not improve the already tainted image of Latvia, where, unfortunately, repeated cases of biased attitudes toward journalists and routine direct violations of people's rights to receive information take place", Volin said.
Baltijas Mediju Alianse includes 25 television channels broadcast in Latvia and Estonia, as well as the Print Media publishing house and newspapers MK Latvija and MK Estoņija.
Sputnik Estonia staffers were recently forced to terminate their contracts from January 1, and threatened with five-year jail terms by Estonian authorities, who cited the 2014 EU sanctions on Russia as a pretext for their actions. Sputnik’s Moscow-based parent company Rossiya Segodnya has insisted that it is not mentioned on any EU sanctions list.