Some repeat Putin’s propaganda – EPN found out what Finnish Russian-language social media is saying about the border closure | Foreign countries

Some repeat Putins propaganda aE EPN found out what Finnish

Such claims are commonplace on Finnish Russian-language social media channels: Finland is to blame for the fact that the eastern border is closed. Russia has not pushed asylum seekers across the border. Finland is no longer a rule of law.

The matter is revealed in ‘s investigation, where conversations were held across Finland’s Russian-language open Facebook and Telegram channels from the beginning of November 2023 to mid-January. The groups have tens of thousands of members.

In this article, we will tell you what kind of conversation was used in them.

In November, Finland closed all checkpoints on the eastern border after about a thousand asylum seekers had crossed the border. The government justified the decision by the fact that Russia had started pushing migrants to Finland.

In Russian-speaking social media, many people blamed the situation on the actions of Finland and not Russia.

Russian speakers living abroad are an important group for Russia, whose opinions it tries to influence in different parts of Europe.

In eastern Ukraine, Russia systematically spread Kremlin propaganda years before the war expanded. It facilitated the takeover of the areas in the spring of 2014.

In the Baltics, Russia has fomented discord between ethnic groups. In France and Germany, Russia has systematically spread lies precisely through Russian-speaking social media groups.

There are approximately 90,000 Russian speakers in Finland. Not all of them are on social media, and social media chatters do not represent all of them.

The people participating in the discussions on the channels follows are private individuals. does not publish in their names.

The social media channels followed by heated up in early November, when politicians began to consider restricting border traffic due to groups of asylum seekers appearing on the eastern border.

In one large Facebook group, publications related to the eastern border collected 2,200 comments between November 11 and 30.

Some of the interlocutors understood the reasons for the border closure, but many did not.

A large part of the participants considered asylum seekers to be Finland’s invented excuse for closing the borders. Some called the information about Russia pushing asylum seekers across the eastern border “Finnish propaganda”.

Accusations against the Finnish authorities intensified when Finland finally closed the borders.

Many felt that the decision was directed specifically against the Russian minority.

In the video below, you can see how the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova responded in mid-November to Finland’s accusations that Russia has organized migrants to the Finnish border.

Researcher below Jakub Kalenski tells how Zaharova’s speech is criticized by one of Russia’s commonly used means of propaganda: it falsely claims that the malicious West is bullying Russia.

Another Russian expert, professor Olga Davydova-Minguet it’s no surprise that the closing of the eastern border is being talked about angrily in Finnish Russian-speakers’ social media.

Many Finno-Russians have family and friends on the Russian side. Crossing the border has been an integral part of everyday life.

– Ending this way of living is a huge deal, says Davydova-Minguet.

Davydova-Minguet, who moved to Finland from the Soviet Union in the 1990s, studies and teaches questions related to Russia and the border at the University of Eastern Finland in the Faculty of Social and Business Sciences.

Also a research doctor Teemu Oivo has been following Finnish Russian-speakers’ social media conversations for years.

According to Oivo, the tone of the discussions changed when the border crossings were closed.

– A lot of the same things came out that “this was here†. That things are wrong irreparably or at least for a very long time, he says.

Oivo studies social media conversations at the University of Eastern Finland’s Karelia Research Institute.

He emphasizes that Finnish Russian speakers are not a united group. Russian-speakers who once immigrated from Russia and fled Eastern Ukraine may have very different perceptions of the Russian administration.

Not everyone’s voice is heard in Facebook and Telegram conversations either.

Facebook groups seem to have a lot of people who moved to Finland in the 1990s. According to Oivo, some of them feel nostalgic about the Soviet Union of their youth.

– According to surveys, those who immigrated in the 1990s find Russia’s actions in Ukraine acceptable more often than those who immigrated in the 2010s.

found no clear signs that the trolls of the Russian administration would systematically try to control the conversations of Russian-speaking social media groups.

The vast majority of those who participated in the discussion had profiles that looked genuine, created years ago. Neither did the completely identical messages or blatant fake news typical of trolling campaigns appear in the discussions.

Clearly, most of the most active chatters in the groups seemed to live in Finland based on their profiles.

The administrator of a Facebook group told that he has not noticed any Kremlin trolls. However, the group’s discussion is not as lively as other groups. does not publish the name of the administrator due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The administrators of the other groups did not respond to ‘s contacts.

Researcher: Finland is not one of the main targets of Russia’s influence campaigns

The Kremlin spends more time and money on influence campaigns elsewhere than in Finland, estimates Jakub Kalenský from the European Center for Competence in Combating Hybrid Threats.

A high level of media literacy, a difficult language and the stability of society make it quite difficult to spread disinformation in Finland, Kalensky explains.

Finland is also a small country. Russia will benefit more from this if it can convert, for example, the Americans or the French to its side.

The discussion of the groups followed by quickly moved to concern the whole of Finnish society.

The disappointment seems to have been deepened by the fact that citizen initiatives and demonstrations to open the border have not led to anything.

Several participants even claim that Finland is no longer a democracy. Those who go the furthest talk about Nazism.

The questioning of Western democracy is a daily part of the Kremlin’s communications. The debate, in which pro-Russian parties claim that the undemocratic government subjugates the Russian-speaking minority, is familiar from Ukraine and the Baltics. In Ukraine, Russia has falsely justified the war of aggression with Ukraine’s “Nazism†.

According to Jakub Kalenský, it is difficult to tell when the discussion on social media channels comes from the people themselves and when it just repeats the Kremlin’s message. The entire worldview may be shaped by Russian propaganda.

It is interesting to note that the interviewees followed by shared significantly more stories about the Finnish than the Russian media.

In total, 25 links to Russian media stories were shared in border-related discussions on the channels, while Finnish news sources were shared 149 times. The clear majority of these were stories from Novosti.

The experts interviewed by estimate that many Russian-speakers in Finland interpret Finnish news through Russian media. They inevitably do not trust the content of Finnish news.

Professor Davydova-Minguet describes the Russian-speaking population of Finland as laggards when it comes to the media.

Some follow the Russian state media, which tries to confuse people and presents many different versions of reality. On the other hand, the Finnish media inevitably does not offer a sufficient level of identification for it to be sufficient as the only news source.

– For example, the discussion about dual citizens is used as if over the heads of Finnish-Russians, Professor Davydova-Minguet points out.

Teemu Oivo points out that Russian-speakers’ social media conversations reflect a wider societal problem: a strong distrust of media and sometimes also official communication.

It creates a common ground for dealing with world events.

– Trust should be actively improved, even if it is difficult, says Oivo.

In this graphic, you can see when the discussion was at its hottest

By touching the ball, you can see which events related to the closure of the eastern border raised the most comments in Facebook groups.

That’s how it was done

  • kävi went through hundreds of posts related to the eastern border and almost 5,000 comments from public Facebook groups and Telegram channels of Finnish Russian speakers.
  • Large, public channels were selected for the review.
  • Every channel investigates has more than 10,000 followers. The largest group has more than 40,000 members.
  • The language of discussion in the groups is Russian. translated the comments published in this story into Finnish.
  • Source of the story’s opening video: Asylum seekers in Salla November 23, 2023 /