The Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo regime of Nicaragua, through the Communication and Citizenship Council (CCC), made up of the country’s state-owned media, signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian state media outlet RT en Español to “exchange” information, Nicaragua’s state-owned news site El 19 Digital reported in December 2022.
“There is no separation of powers […]. That memorandum of understanding should not be valid, because the one who signed for Nicaragua is one of the sons of the dictatorship’s couple,” José Ulloa, a member of Voces del Sur, a network of 16 Latin American organizations dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information, told Diálogo on January 2. “That shows nepotism, and it is a commercial agreement between that Russian chain and the owners of the regime’s family media.”
Daniel Edmundo Ortega Murillo, CCC media coordinator and son of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, and Victoria Vorontsova, director of RT en Español, signed the memorandum at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Managua. “With this memorandum we agreed to exchange content […]. It will help us to conduct exchanges of experience on a regular basis,” Vorontsova said.
Daniel Edmundo Ortega Murillo was appointed to the position in January 2022 and runs state-owned as well as private media in the hands of Sandinistas who disseminate the propaganda of the family and the regime, Nicaraguan news site Despacho 505 reported.
According to Eduardo Enríquez, editor in chief of the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa, this new alliance with the Russian state-owned news outlet coupled to the current situation of independent media censorship in Nicaragua make it so that “journalism in the country is suffering the most repressive stage in its history.”
“RT en Español can now come to Nicaragua whenever it wants and carry out its propaganda coverage hand in hand with the local propaganda apparatus, by broadcasting it in the markets where that channel penetrates, which are not only autocratic regimes, but in democratic societies where its objective is to confuse,” Enríquez told Voice of America. “RT is the disinformation arm of the Russian regime abroad and therefore an ally of Ortega and the rest of the autocratic regimes in Latin America — Cuba and Venezuela.”
Meanwhile, the Ortega-Murillo regime banned more than 180 independent journalists and shut down more than 50 media outlets through a series of laws and regulations, Nicaraguan daily La Prensa reported on December 4.
In March 2022, the European Union sanctioned RT, suspending its broadcasting activities after the Russian outlet started a campaign of disinformation, manipulation, and distortion of the events that took place during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Social networks such as YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, also blocked access to RT in the EU.
“In my opinion, the only thing this cooperation could lead to is fine tuning on technique and strategy for repression, control, and surveillance, or to position the dictatorship’s official narrative in its media,” Ulloa said. “That’s the work of state-owned media, to repeat the official narrative, to try to advance that human rights are respected in Nicaragua; but in reality, we know that there are repeat violations of fundamental rights.”
Nicaragua has been strengthening its relationship with Kremlin-allied media for several months. In September 2022, the country signed a memorandum of cooperation between the CCC and Russian outlet Sputnik, so that media allied to the Ortega-Murillo regime could broadcast fake news originating in Russia and keep misleading the Nicaraguan people.