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Tue

01

May

2007

He’s Back. Who’d A Thunk It.
Tuesday, 01 May 2007 10:38
by Copydude

Bronze_Soldier_EstoniaAlmost before you can say ‘fascist’, the Estonians have hurriedly re-assembled the Bronze Soldier and put him back up, albeit in a different location. They even put out a live TV broadcast to tell the world.

That’s a very different story to Friday, when Government spokesman Martin Jasko said the ‘unnecessarily divisive’ statue had ‘no place in the city centre’ and was being removed to an ‘undisclosed location’.

One can observe that putting him back up was as precipitate as dismantling him in the first place. There’s no guarantee his new location will be any less provocative. More likely the opposite, given that a few war graves have been desecrated in the ensuing controversy.

So, what might have been the pressures on the Estonian Government? They won’t have been from the Russian minority in Estonia, a marginalised, powerless, unemployed and eminently lock-uppable minority.

Over the weekend, condemnation came from from more than a few directions. Notably from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the LA-based holocaust historians.

Russians in Russia spontaneously responded to the desecration of the war grave. Supermarkets voluntarily stopped selling Estonian goods, while Moscow Mayor Luzhkov called on institutions to freeze financial transactions with Estonia.

Russia’s always amusing deputy speaker, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, offered to fund a replica of the soldier to be installed across the street from the Estonian embassy in Moscow. (Currently under siege from the equally entertaining Nashi kids.)

Predictable stuff. And in all this, who is predictably absent? The EU, of course. ‘It’s a local spat”, was the response, despite an urgent plea from Finland to join the debate.

My previous post, ‘Ethnic Cleansing in Estonia‘ describes how the EU bent its own rules to facilitate the passage of Estonia into the expanded NATO EU.

In terms of human rights, Estonia never passed any normal rules for EU Entry. As ‘The Scotsman‘ notes today:

After regaining independence in 1991, Estonia gave automatic citizenship only to people resident in the country before the annexation of 1941. This has left the vast bulk of Russian-speakers, most of whom arrived or were born during the Soviet period, as non-citizens.

Statistically, that’s a whole third of the population disadvantaged. But according to the EU, and the Estonian Government, it’s one statue that’s divisive.

The funny part is that Belgium - and Brussels - experienced the same kind of language wars that divided and paralysed the country for decades. Now you can’t buy a tin of beans in Brussels that isn’t packaged in two languages and three are official. Are EU MPs so permanently out to lunch that they just don’t get it? Or just pig ignorant?
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Comments (12)add comment

a guest said:

0
Russian propaganda
"So, what might have been the pressures on the Estonian Government?"

Wrong question! The plan was to relocate the statue from city centre to a war cemetery from the beginning. But because the protesters started to riot, the statue was quickly moved to a hidden place (so the angry people wouldn't know where to protest). The ‘undisclosed location’ was practically next to the new location -- On a closed military territory next to the war cemetery.

The russian media and politicians spread lies about the bronze soldier. Lies like that the statue is being destroyed not relocated. Or that the soldiers have orders to shoot russians and police are killing peaceful protesters. Russian speaking minority get their information from russian media and Russia is to blame for the unrest.
 
May 01, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
copydude replies
Desecrating a war grave is a highly provocative act and the Estonian Government knew full well what it was doing. How anyone can suggest that Russia is to blame for the unrest is beyond me.

Neither is the removal of the 'Soldier' something that happened in isolation. It is part of a process of cultural cleansing of anything Soviet in Estonia that has been continuing for years.

Last year, a bill was introduced in Estonia to criminalise the display or possession of anything 'Soviet'. The eradication of just about every other public Russian artefact is testimony to the programme.

Following cultural cleansing, there is now a form of ethnic cleansing of the minority Russian speakers by the Language Directorate - language and citizenship eradication. Amnesty International is hardly making this up. And it's also a fact that it is against the EU Charter of Human Rights and the EU's own Treaty of Amsterdam.

No one disputes that Estonians have their grievances. But as members of the EU they have laws and obligations.

Estonia chose to pick a fight with Russia and it's more than likely they were encouraged in this. The missile bases in Poland are also part of 'baiting the Bear' - as is the programme in Latvia to push for occupation reparations. All of this is turning the clock back and not helpful to Europeans living together. The Nuremberg trials were concluded early many years ago by men of wisdom for that very reason. Instead of gaining retribution, they propagated hate.

As a member of another EU state, I wish neither to bail out a country which ignores its citizen's rights obligations or gets into a spat by desecrating a war grave. Or one that is having its strings pulled as a US vassal state.
 
May 02, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Extremely uninformed and biased article...
I am sorry to say the facts in this article are first off, biased completely towards Russia, and are also blatant lies in some cases.

"...despite an urgent plea from Finland to join the debate." - Finland's PM and FM actually have both stated that the Bronze soldier is Estonia's private matter.


I sincerely hope the author of this article focuses less on his emotions and is more honest next time.
Thank you.
 
May 02, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
copydude replies
That's not what The Finnish press is reporting. Quote:

EU must maintain joint line on Estonia monument row -Finnish FM

30.4.2007 at 10:47

Ilkka Kanerva (cons), the foreign minister of Finland, said Sunday that it was important that the EU maintained a joint line when responding to the problems in the relations between Estonia and Russia sparked by the removal of the Soviet second world war memorial from central Tallinn.

http://newsroom.finland.fi/stt/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=15622&group=Politics

This is not biased towards one country. When one country compromises EU-Russia relations, it's bad news for all of us in the other - EU law abiding - member states. And basic human rights IS an international concern, which is why Amnesty International has rightly criticised Estonia.
 
May 02, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Russian fascism
As an european, I do not understand part of the american left's willingness to be blind to russian resurgent fascism. Russian government is intentionally agitating this situation in order to manipulate it's own internal attitudes. Estonian government websites were assaulted by IP addresses located in Russian government facilities. Russian hooligans ame by bus to join in on the looting and thievery. The mob that shouted "Russia!" is either russians, or traitors who should move to their real homeland, as it is clear they are not estonian in any way. Birth does not make on a member of society, acting like one is a member does.
By constantly trying to make Estonia the bad guy, you give a free pass for the bear to once again change it's coat and return to tyranny at home, and perhaps abroad as well. Russians never admitted that they were complicit in Stalin's crimes, and those of the Soviet system in general - exactly like the germans. The peaceful collapse of the Soviet empire gave them the excuse to say that it wasn't the russians that did all these horrible things, it was the system. As long as russians are in denial about their own bloody past, democracy and peace will be crushed under the bear's jackboot. From czar to premiere to president, the people never admit that they too are responsible for the actions of their leaders. Thus, they never learn.
 
May 02, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Dear Copydude,
please, either read others articles more carefully, or write your articles more carefully. Preferably both.

The quote you gave from the article does NOT imply in the SLIGHTEST that Finland has urgently plead the EU to join in on the debate. I'm sorry if English is not your native language or if you were just a bit sleepy when reading the article - happens to all of us - but paraphrasing the quote, the Finnish FM wants the EU to express their views from a common point of view. That's the point of the Union, sticking together.

Now, if you read the article from the link you posted again, you will probably notice the following:

"Echoing Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (centre), Mr Kanerva said that as a sovereign country Estonia was capable of handling the situation and concluding the matter in a way that took the sensibilities of all ethnic groups into consideration."

Yep, you've guessed it. Both the Finnish PM and FM have stated that Estonia is capable of hadling the situation. No need for other countries to intervene in Estonian private matters.


I apologize if I sounded too rude, that was not my point. It's just that, as a journalist you have great influence over people and giving the people false information, whether purposely or not, is extremely regrettable.
 
May 02, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
I wish you disliked the Soviet empire
Dear Dude, Watch Russian TV, see the propaganda against "fascist" Estonia taking place there, see ethnic hatred being escalated by the state, see youngsters looting the stores in Tallinn, see people calling for armed conflict against Estonian place, and then rewrite your article by including another side of the story - the one that does not justify Stalin's crimes, does not call for killing, does not announce a full-blown economic blocade because of one single monument, does not fail to protect foreign diplomats and is not use the language of liberators to justify their hatred and occupation. And then, after getting a balanced view of the situation, decide for yourself, who is to blame, instead of re-running passionate Russian arguments with a lot of missing evidence...
 
May 03, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
copydude replies to 'a guest'
The quote you gave from the article does NOT imply in the SLIGHTEST that Finland has urgently plead the EU to join in on the debate.


The article is a weasel worded. But that's FM's for you. He makes himself clearer here:

Here is last night's statement from the Republic of Estonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet. It was published by Eesti Päevaleht at 23.23.

The European Union is under attack, because Russia is attacking Estonia.

The Bronze Soldier and the vandalism in Tallinn was an Estonian domestic matter, but Russia’s coordinated actions against Estonia are a European Union problem


In other words, other EU citizens have got to bail out Estonia for its crass diplomacy, now that it has blown up in their faces. I have read all his statements carefully, not only the one I referenced.

By the way, you are not being rude at all, you are a good debater and your comments are much appreciated. It's understood that this is a very polarising issue.







 
May 03, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

Copy Dude said:

Copy Dude
copydude replies to 'a guest'
The quote you gave from the article does NOT imply in the SLIGHTEST that Finland has urgently plead the EU to join in on the debate.


The article is weasel worded. There's either a joint line or there isn't. The joint line is made clearer here:

Here is last night's statement from the Republic of Estonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet. It was published by Eesti Päevaleht at 23.23. Posted verbatim.

The European Union is under attack, because Russia is attacking Estonia.

The Bronze Soldier and the vandalism in Tallinn was Estonian domestic matter, but Russia’s coordinated actions against Estonia are a European Union problem


In other words, other EU citizens will have to bail out Estonia for its diplomatic screw up.

By the way, no one thinks you are being rude. You are a good debater and your comments are appreciated. It's understood that this is a polarising issue.
 
May 03, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

Copy Dude said:

Copy Dude
Re: 'I Wish You Disliked The Soviet Empire'
Sorry, but there isn't a Soviet Empire anymore. You must be one of the last to notice.

You'll have a job finding a Stalin statue anywhere in Russia these days. In fact, Stalin statues were extinct by the early nineties. Even Stalingrad has been called Volgograd for longer than I can remember.

Russia moved on long time ago. Maybe you should too.

 
May 03, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
...
I have watched russian TV recently. And the reporting was nothing of the hysterical propoganda sort that you describe here. Nothing like, say, the BS in the West when it was bombing Yugoslavia. They obviously empathise with the Russians (obviously) and embellish things (which news service doesn't?), but even if they had reported things exactly as per Estonian wishes ("we're just moving it, nothing to see here"), there still would have been outrage. So no point in putting the blame on "Russian propaganda". Ansip knew with a absolute certainty there'd be a reaction. I guess he prefers a good war to a bad peace.
 
May 04, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Hello again, Copydude
You quoted the Estonian FM on that one, and it was not on the matter of the rioting and looting which happened (and on which the Finnish FM and PM said it was Estonian private matter), but the attacks on our government's and other important institutions' internet sites. From Russia (according to our politicians, some attacks even came from the Administration of Kreml itself. I doubt the Russians would be so dumb though smilies/smiley.gif.
And also, there were several hundred young russian extrimists in Moscow barricading our embassy, vandalizing it and they even tried to attack our embassador. This is why our government officials have been calling for help. Not because of the riots and looting, which has, by now, been long forgotten. And I must say, Estonians don't really care much about those two nights anyway unless they were involved (they were the looters, or their shops/cars were vandalized). But the wave of propaganda from the Russian media and government, the internet attacks and harassing of our diplomats is not very amusing.

P.S. I'm not sure if the foreign papers have talked about it, but most of the looters who protested against the removal of the statue are actually thieves/burglars and pickpockets. The amount of crimes committed in Tallinn dropped about 50% and the police recognized a bunch of faces from the pictures taken of the protesters.
 
May 04, 2007
Votes: +0

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