Erkki Johan Bäckman’s Role as a Russian Propagandist

Erkki Johan Bäckman is a Finnish political activist, propagandist, writer, eurosceptic, and stalker operating for the Russian regime. Bäckman has been a major Finnish propagandist in Russia who has vigorously participated in long-standing operations to reproduce anti-Finnish and anti-Western Russian propaganda. The Estonian Internal Security Service official Andres Kahar stated in the Estonian press that Bäckman is “a Russian propagandist” distributing disinformation similar to assertions made in Moscow.

Bäckman has backed Russia in the Russo-Ukrainian War. During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has given comments to Russian media about the anti-Russian opinion of the European Union and the UK. Bäckman has also argued that Ukraine as a nation does not exist. Bäckman is also an associate of the pro-Russian Power Belongs To The People party.

His activity was documented by Helsingin Sanomat as part of an international investigative journalism partnership project. The project was performed by OCCRP, a network of journalists specializing in crime and corruption, and The Intercept organization. As demonstrated by the project, Bäckman has for years delivered the Russian state radio and television company VGTRK with news material slandering Finland and other Western countries. VGTRK is the Kremlin’s most significant propaganda and disinformation disseminator which handles all of Russia’s largest radio and television channels. 

Former Finnish Ambassador to Russia Hannu Himanen considers that Bäckman functions as part of a global propaganda and disinformation web built by Russia. Bäckman has repeatedly travelled to Russia since 1993 and is fluent in Russian. In 2000, he founded a publishing institution named the Johan Beckman Institute in Saint Petersburg.

Bäckman admires Vladimir Putin, crediting all contemporary successes of Russia to Putin’s character and health. He noted that Finland also needs organizations such as the pro-Kremlin Nashi and Walking Together. According to Bäckman, the freedom of the press in Russia is vastly higher than in Finland, and Estonia is not free at all.

Bäckman has voiced backing for Russia in the Russo-Ukrainian War. In March 2014, Bäckman was invited to partake as an observer by the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections a far-right Russia-based self-proclaimed election monitoring institution, in the debated Crimean status referendum, which resulted in the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Bäckman commented that he saw no violations and believed the referendum to be within the framework of international law.

In his 2007 book Finland Washed with Anna Politkovskaya‘s Blood, he endorsed the conspiracy theory that Anna Politkovskaya’s assassination was arranged as an attempt to smear Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Bäckman has indicated that Politkovskaya was depressed and ordered her murder. According to Bäckman, Politkovskaya, a Russian writer and human rights activist, was an American agent. He also attacks Finn’s reaction to the murder. Bäckman blamed Finnish Green League politician Heidi Hautala and the Finnish media for stirring hatred towards Russia and Vladimir Putin. 

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