Prague - Ero Balk, a Finnish expert in Czech, Russian and Ukrainian languages, warns against underestimating the influence of Moscow’s propaganda.
Most Finnish people perceive very sensitively Russian provocations and threats as well as the war activities in Ukraine, the Finnish translator Ero Balk pointed out in an interview with the Aktuálně.cz daily.
"In Finnland, there is a loud minority that, for a very long time, tries to interpret the Kremlin‘s opinions,“ Balk said. "Maybe these people are paid propagandists hired by Moscow. Russian media give them, very willingly, space to present these opinions."
Nevertheless, most Finnish people support Ukraine, Balk stressed. But he thinks that the prolonged crisis causes people losing interest in it and Moscow knows it very well.
"Unfortunately, the Finnish media have considered the news agency Russia Today a reliable source," Balk continued. "They have, for example, took over the information that seven hundred thousand Ukrainian refugees had come to Russia in two months time. And the Finnish journalists have not tried to count up how many people had crossed the frontier in reality at that time. This disinformation has been presented as fact in Finnland.“
According to Balk, Moscow is investing in the „positive“ propaganda with the aim to improve the image of Russia a lot of money. In doing this, Kremlin is exploiting Finnish, Czech and Ukrainian journalists.
"Moscow has published an information that Kremlin is cooperating with up to thirty Finnish journalists,“ Balk said. „In Helsinki, there has been established a specialized press agency. And as I know, something similar is being prepared in the Czech Republic with one single aim – to spread and support Moscow’s opinions and to criticize the Western way of life."
"Some people say that our historic experience tells us to be very careful and to prepare for the worst," Balk continued. "And other people want to have formidable relations with Russia."
In 1939, the Soviet Union had invaded Finnland and later on, the government in Helsinki had to cede to Moscow eleven percent of the Finnish territory.
"I like the Russian people," Balk said. "But I dislike one of their character traits. In making friends with you, they have always tried to find out how far they can go in subjugating you. They have always taken as much space as you have given to them.“
Balk has been shocked by what Czech president Miloš Zeman had said about Russia and Ukraine.
"I’m not sure if he is serious about what he is saying or if he is only provoking other people,“ Balk concluded. „In any case, the Finnish people perceive very sensitively the contacts of Zemans‘ associates with the Russian company Lukoil.“