UPDATED: New documentary reveals covert Russian influence in Baltics

A new documentary film that claims to reveal the extent of hidden Russian government influence in the Baltic states receives its premiere Thursday. 

The film, titled The Master Plan examines various individuals and non-governmental organizations operating in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and follows money trails to reveal the extent of their covert backing by the Kremlin.

Investigative journalists from Re:Baltica did the research and wrote the script, with Mistrus Media (Latvia), Monoklis (Lithuania) and Allfilm (Estonia) film studios producing and Latvia's Juris Pakalniņš directing.

The Master Plan explores the methods through which Russia influences the domestic policies of the Baltic States – by dividing the local community, promoting nostalgia for the Soviet Union and dismissing the recovered independence of the Baltic States.

The documentary features comments from experts including Anne Applebaum, Lev Gudkov, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Artemy Troitsky and Edward Lucas.

The first screening takes place at the Latvian National Library this evening and is followed by a geopolitical discussion.

You can watch the English-language trailer for the film below.

Sanita Jemberga, the film's scriptwriter told LSM: "We started before the Crimea occupation on a film about Russia's soft power, and then the annexation and war in Ukraine made us revisit the concept and set out of a film of the methods by which Russia builds its influence in the countries it considers in its sphere of interest."

"Now, when Germans are talking about investigating whether Russia uses the refugee crisis to weaken Mrs Merkel, we can say: in the Baltics, it was done like this: exploiting our own different views towards Baltic history, with daily help of TV propaganda (which was not even about the Baltics, but about the world view), influencing friendly politicians and funding NGOs and fake institutes helping to create the fog."

"There are many other things which we could not get in film, like the Gazprom influence of LV willingness to allow money laundering via its banks, which play a part of Latvia staying close to Russia's orbit, but they are also there. So it's not story which has an ending.

"If something surprised me it was how internationalised the network of marginals who work as actors in Russian propaganda is, and also in a way how quickly bits and pieces started to pop up in another countries."

[In the interests of full disclosure we should say that LSM English editor Mike Collier provides a voiceover for The Master Plan's English language version.]

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