EESC analysis presented to the U.S. decision makers in Washington, DC

On June 11-13, EESC Policy Analysts Dovilė Šukytė visited Washington, DC, where together with Latvian and Estonian colleagues she shared Baltic states experience in addressing threats posed by Russia’s malign influence. The visit was possible by funding from the Baltic American Freedom Foundation (BAFF).

On June 11, an event “Baltic Experiences in Countering Russian Influence: Lessons for the U.S.” was co-organized at the Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). As one of presenters Dovilė shared the results of EESC studies analysing Russia’s propaganda in Lithuania. Studies are based on assessment of surveys of Lithuanian public in 2016 and 2018, and provides an in depth look into society groups most vulnerable to propaganda and propaganda-related manipulation. Also, EESC activities aimed at educating Lithuanian society and increasing its resilience to Kremlin’s disinformation were presented. Latvian experiences were shared by Dr. Solvita Denisa-Liepniece, Assistant Professor, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences and Researcher, Institute of Social, Economic and Humanities Research (HESPI), Dmitri Teperik, Chief Executive, International Centre for Defence and Security presented situation in Estonia. Discussion was moderated by Brian Whitmore, Head of Russia Program, CEPA.

During their visit, Baltic experts also attended meetings at the U.S. Department of State and the Capitol, including meeting with staff members of Senators Rob Portman and Chris Murphy who initiated the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act. The aim of these meetings was to look for cooperation possibilities in order to address threats posed by Russia’s and other actors’ malign influence in a coordinated way.

Among recommendations raised by Baltic experts are following:
- Researchers need access to such platforms as WhatsApp, which is being used to spread information among like-minded groups and not even scholars for purpose of research can see how it affects the audience. This could be done only with the help of the U.S. Government.
- The Baltics consume Western content, be it TV series, movies or other shows. Therefore, more of the U.S. produced content should be available for Baltic citizens free of charge. Especially such TV series as “Chernobyl”, which revives people memories about the Soviet times and inefficiency of Soviet-type government, and directly damages and dismantles narratives by Kremlin’s propaganda machine.
- It is important to ensure that modern technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are built to operate an objective information and not to be used to manipulate people decisions.