TALLINN, Estonia – Estonia has launched its first full-scale Russian-language television channel in an attempt to lure the country's sizable Russian-speaking minority away from Moscow's sphere of influence.
State broadcaster ERR said the ETV+ channel that started broadcasting Monday offers news, entertainment and other programs for 10 hours a day in Russian with Estonian subtitles or interpretation.
ERR program chief Ainar Ruussaar said the channel is "a long term project" and aims to bring closer together Estonians and ethnic Russians, who make up a quarter of the Baltic country's population of 1.3 million. Estonian is the Baltic country's only official language.
A substantial number of Estonia's Russian-speakers have so far tuned in to Moscow's state-run channels and "don't often know much about what's happening in the country they live in," Ruussaar said.
Establishing the channel became a priority to Estonia's government after Russia started annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and initiated propaganda campaigns particularly through television.
Complemented by a dedicated website, ETV+ has an annual budget of around 4 million euros ($4.5 million).