The Riigikogu Rostrum as a Propaganda Platform
Propaganda has been around for centuries, and the word has always had a derogatory connotation. Around the middle of the last century propaganda was renamed public relations, so that the people would not associate the agitation of democratic governments with the brainwashing of dictatorships.
Today propagandistic activities are divided into four stages: preliminary persuasion, establishing credibility of the propagandist, communicating messages that steer people’s thinking in the right direction, and evoking emotions. All these stages were implemented in the presentation of the Prime Minister Mart Laar when he made a political announcement in connection with the privatisation of the Narva Power Stations on 23 August 2001 in the Riigikogu. He explained that the privatisation had been conducted by three governments, not only the one led by him; he sought support for his main positions from authoritative sources, and attempted to reduce the authority of the opposition’s positions by using heurisms (methods that direct people to adopting decisions without rational consideration) in forming his messages, and tried to inseminate fear in the audience. Thus it may be stated that the Prime Minister’s presentation was propagandistic. However, propaganda is also a characteristic feature of other political forces in Estonia – the same methods were used by the member of the Estonian People’s Union (Eestimaa Rahvaliit) Janno Reiljan who gave his presentation after the leader of the Government.