Category Archives: estonia

EDITORIAL: Estonia Whips Russian Butt

EDITORIAL

Estonia Whips Russian Butt

Reader “Robert” directs us to a BBC web page which compares the performance of the nations in post-Soviet space on economics, health and democracy. It provides three charts which reveal shocking facts about the failure of Putin’s resource-rich Russia when compared with tiny Estonia, the leader of the group.

First comes economics, which reveals not one but three stunning insights about Russia:

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Russia admits to Cyber Attack on Estonia

The always brilliant Robert Coalson of Radio Free Europe reports:

In the spring of 2007, a cyberattack on Estonia blocked websites and paralyzed the country’s entire Internet infrastructure. At the peak of the crisis, bank cards and mobile-phone networks were temporarily frozen, setting off alarm bells in the tech-dependent country — and in NATO as well.

The cyberattacks came at a time when Estonia was embroiled in a dispute with Russia over the removal of a Soviet-era war memorial from the center of  Tallinn. Moscow denied any involvement in the attacks, but Estonian officials were convinced of Russia’s involvement in the plot.

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The Saga of Arnold Meri

Marko Mihkelson, the chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee in Estonia’s parliament, writing in the Moscow Times:

In recent days, the court proceedings in the small Estonian town of Kardla, where Arnold Meri stands trial for crimes against humanity, have gained much attention in the Russian press.

Unfortunately, this case reveals dramatically how biased and truth-fearing the media landscape of Russia is today. Naturally, no word is spoken or written about the fact that Meri is accused of carrying out deportations under Estonian legislation and international law.

The Russian media only proclaim that Meri was given the Hero of the Soviet Union award and that, in their view, the court case of the 88-year-old veteran is only a political trial orchestrated by the Estonian authorities. It is all supposed to serve the purpose of “rewriting” the outcomes of the World War II, we are told.

Following this logic, it might be assumed that all heroes of the Soviet Union enjoy a life-long immunity and can kill, rape or deport with impunity. It is sad if this is the contemporary Russian view of the rule of law.

There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity. It is not important who committed them and when. Eleven persons accused of crimes against humanity have been convicted in Estonia from 1995, eight of whom participated the deportation of civilians in the 1940s. Even the European Court of Human Rights in its decision of Jan. 17, 2006, supported the Estonian court practice of trying and prosecuting crimes against humanity.

Meri is accused of carrying out deportations of 251 people — mostly women and children — from the Estonian island of Hiiumaa on March 25, 1949. On that day, the Soviet occupation forces deported altogether 20,000 people from Estonia.

Unfortunately, that was not the only tragedy in the sufferings of the Estonian people in the 1940s. A similar episode occurred on June 14, 1941, when the People’s Commissariat for Interior Affairs of the Soviet Union organized the deportation of more than 10,000 residents of Estonia, among whom nearly 5,000 women and 2,500 children. More than 3,000 of them were sent directly to prison camps, where the majority were killed or died.

For most Russians, the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, which is officially called the Great Patriotic War in Russia, has been elevated to the single most important historical event. No one today questions the importance of the Allies’ defeat of Nazism. What raises concerns, however, is that the victory over Nazi Germany is told in rigorous black-and-white terms. We know that history is a growing collection of narratives with countless nuances. No historical event occurs in a vacuum. This is true for the Great Patriotic War, and it is important to analyze all of events that preceded and followed the war.

I am convinced that many Russians are more knowledgeable and balanced than the ruling elite in analyzing and interpreting World War II and its aftermath.

Deep wounds in the memory of nations heal very slowly. The feelings of distrust and even hatred can be easily fomented and manipulated. It is very difficult to earn respect by trampling on the truth, and leaders who try to stifle the historical sense of entire nations with this peculiar weapon of history are doing a terrible disservice to their citizens, the consequences of which may be irreversible.

Ilya Ponomarev, a State Duma deputy from A Just Russia and is one of the founders of the Left Front movement, offered a counterpoint in the same issue:

For the past week, Russian television has been stoking the public’s passions over Estonia’s charges of war crimes against Arnold Meri. Judging from the coverage, you would think that serious domestic problems, such as increasing neo-Nazism or the lack of housing for veterans, have been resolved.

Of course, it is always easier for the Kremlin and its media outlets to criticize other countries than itself. It is more expedient to fight against imaginary foes than taking on the real threats to society.

Russia’s leaders never tire of displaying hypocritical self-righteousness, crying out passionately about justice — particularly when these public stances bring in so many political dividends.

The more Russia bickers with the Baltic states, the more it resembles a fixed contest in which the results are settled beforehand. The ruling elites of both sides compete with one other at tossing out nasty accusations before their electorates in an attempt to divert attention away from the real problems of everyday life. This happened not long ago with the dispute over moving the Bronze Soldier monument from central Tallinn, and it is happening again now. It seems that those in power are happy, even if a decorated war hero must now stand trial — and this is a man who, in 1941, didn’t quit the field of battle against the Nazis, even after sustaining four battle wounds, and who is now unafraid to stand up for his fellow war veterans, despite suffering from a serious illness.

I do not want to address Meri’s specific actions in 1949 for which he now stands accused — the deportation of the Estonia civilians to Siberia. Let’s leave it to the lawyers to determine whether Meri organized the deportations or was just carrying out orders. There is a more important issue that has gotten lost in the Meri affair: Instead of focusing on one person for crimes against humanity, the authorities should initiate an international tribunal against the entire Communist regime for crimes against humanity. Although the wealthy and ruling elite in the former Soviet republics might find this initiative attractive, the overwhelming majority of the people, who live worse now than they did 20 years ago, would never support this idea. In the absence of a Nuremberg-like trial, however, any attempt to single out one person smacks of a politically motivated campaign to find a scapegoat.

In reality, of course, politicians and the media don’t care that much about Meri or his alleged crime of “genocide,” despite the passionate debates on television talk shows. They relish the opportunity to generate good public relations with voters, especially since the government has nothing to say regarding the real problems facing society. How many rating points has United Russia racked up by renaming streets in Pskov and Altai in honor of Arnold Meri? As is often the case, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

And for its part, Estonian leaders are manipulating the issue to marginalize opposition groups. They also are trying to provoke Russia to take retaliatory actions, which would then prompt the European Union to come to Estonia’s defense.

Both the Russian and Estonian sides should be ashamed of themselves for how they have cynically exploited the Meri affair for political gain.

The spindoctors on both sides who stand behind their respective PR campaigns should think more about the millions of Russian and Estonian lives that were lost during World War II and its aftermath. They should also think about their children, who will grow up one day and look back on what the Meri trial and cry, “Shame on you!”

The Education of a Russophile

The BBC reports:

I was irritated by his three-piece suit. I was irritated by his floppy bow tie. But if I am honest, what really irritated me about Toomas Ilves was the fact that he and I had started off in almost the same job and I had become “our own correspondent” while he had become a head of state. Do not get me wrong, I love what I do. But arriving at the pad he occupies as president of Estonia – a charming little salmon-and-cream-cheese-coloured mansion in a park built for Peter the Great – I could not help feeling a twinge of envy.

It was not the kind of home either of us could have imagined in the late 1980s when I was a talks writer in the Russian section of the BBC World Service, and he was something similar in the Estonian section of Radio Free Europe. And it was not the kind of house I ever got. So when I had nodded at – and been ignored by – the white-gloved ceremonial guards on my way in, I am afraid I was a little less courteous to him than he was to me.

Why, I asked, did he not speak Russian? It seemed a reasonable question because Russian is the language of more than a quarter of Estonia’s population. But for President Ilves it was not reasonable at all. Speaking Russian, he said firmly, would mean accepting 50 years of Soviet brutalisation because most Russian-speakers settled in Estonia only after it was occupied by the USSR towards the end of World War II. And when I pressed him, saying surely it would only mean being able to communicate with a large number of his fellow countrymen in their own language, he replied – as heads of state have every right to do: “This is a real dead end, I don’t want to discuss it.”

I moved on. And we had another cup of tea.

Bitter row

But Estonia’s relations with Russia have reached something of a dead end since a bitter row last year over the moving of a monument. For Russians, the bronze statue of a Soviet soldier was a symbol of sacrifice, commemorating Estonia’s liberation from Nazi Germany. For Estonians it was a symbol of slavery, reminding them of the Soviet domination that followed. Last April, when the Estonian government ordered it to be moved from a central square in the capital Tallinn to a military cemetery, protests by local Russians degenerated into riots. Russia accused Estonia of blasphemy and threatened “serious measures” in response.

What followed was a partial Russian trade blockade of Estonia and – far more chilling – an extraordinary cyber-attack. Millions of malicious messages were sent to Estonian websites and almost succeeded in disabling the country’s entire computer network. The messages were in Russian and mostly accused Estonians of being fascists. There is no proof the Kremlin was behind them or behind the riots.

But President Ilves believes Moscow loses no opportunity to meddle in the affairs of his tiny country. Indeed as a former radio journalist, he was keen to quote me a weighty think-tank report that suggests the Kremlin is trying to divide and rule the whole of Europe. As a former talks writer from a more Russophile background, I was more inclined to give the Kremlin the benefit of the doubt.

Russian perspective

But my views changed a bit when I got to the Kremlin itself.

I found myself soon afterwards in a grand office behind its intimidating red-brick walls, looking out over the psychedelic onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral and taking tea with President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko. He was so disgusted by the moving of the bronze soldier statue that he could not bring himself to say anything else at all about Estonia. But he would talk about relations with another neighbour, Georgia.

‘Punishment’

Georgia has also accused Russia of meddling. And it has also found itself the victim of swingeing trade sanctions. Why, I asked, were they necessary? “Georgia,” Mr Prikhodko growled back, “can’t always be like a little boy that takes a fork or a hammer and tries to whack its neighbour. Even a small child knows that if you spill tea or mess up your bed, you might be punished.”

Small child? Punishment?

I was quite taken aback, in such a lofty setting, to hear those sentiments expressed so crudely. And I was bound to assume that Estonia is also regarded as a small child that needs punishing. If that is Russia’s attitude, President Ilves’ desire to turn his back on it seems altogether easier to understand. Of course, I know he has always looked west when I have been looking east. From Radio Free Europe he went to Washington – as Estonian ambassador – while I had gone from the World Service to the BBC News bureau in Moscow. Whether or not that is the secret of his success, I do not know. But turning westwards certainly has not done Toomas Ilves, or his country, any harm.

And I think now I can get over him having such a nice little palace.

The Sunday Prayer: Estonia Counts Her Blessings

Estonia Counts her Blessings on the
90th Anniversary of Independence

by Jüri Estam

(exclusive to La Russophobe)

Small as she is, my home country of Estonia reminds me of those extremely premature babies who beat the odds and survive. While there are other cultures that have been tenacious enough to not disappear despite centuries of foreign domination, with the Welsh being one example, few have hung on by the skin of their teeth for as long as the Estonians. After the Estonian tribes had been vanquished by the Danes and the German Brothers of the Sword in the early 13th century, submission became the rule for hundreds of years, as Estonia was conquered in succession by one European power after another. Performing manual labor on plantations owned by German and Swedish barons, common Estonians eked out a living from one generation to the next.

War and pestilence threatened Estonians with extinction on several occasions. After the Livonian war at the end of the 16th century, their numbers had been reduced to a mere 85,000. An old traveler’s account describes Estonia and Latvia after the passage of the troops of Peter the Great – a landscape strangely devoid of human habitation, where no cock crowed, and no dog barked.
It was not until the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution that prospects of better times arrived for the common people of Europe. As time passed, more and more peoples strove to create nations of their own.

Those who Have Known Slavery Savor Freedom Most

Given the choice, all living creatures prefer freedom to fetters. For purposes of illustration, the British military made a major miscalculation in Dublin in 1916, when they executed all seven signatories of the Irish declaration of independence. To this day, the General Post Office in Dublin where the proclamation was made public and the rising began holds a special place in the hearts of the Irish. The Easter Proclamation itself has the status of a revered national icon. The American public regards Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where 56 persons signed the US Declaration of Independence in 1776, as a shrine.

When Estonia declared her independence 90 years ago, it was under risky conditions. Profoundly affected by the Russian Revolution, the Russian garrison in Estonia was plunged into chaos, and retreated to Mother Russia once German troops landed on the Estonian coast. Taking advantage of the temporary power vacuum that ensued, the Estonian Diet took a “now or never” decision. It was on the stairs of the Endla Theater in the coastal city of Parnu that Estonian independence was proclaimed on February 23, 1918.

Estonians had been kept from occupying positions of prominence and power in their own country for a long time. Georg Hellat, who drew up the construction plans for the theater, was the first significant architect of native Estonian background to make good. The Endla theater – a Jugendstil building designed by him – was dedicated in 1911. During the independence period between the two World Wars, it would serve in free Estonia as a hub of local culture for Parnu, a resort city of tree-lined streets and hotels and spas that is famous thanks largely to its beaches.

It was quite remarkable that Estonia, supported by British naval guns, succeeded in expelling both German and Soviet Russian armies during a war of independence that went on for over a year. In the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 between The Russian Soviet Republic and the Republic of Estonia, the Kremlin relinquished all rights to the territory of Estonia for time eternal. Instead of remaining free forever, the three Baltic States – Estonia included – actually only experienced independence for twenty years.

When Western Europe was set free at the end of World War II, these three parliamentary democracies – they had been members of the League of Nations – had been “abducted” by the occupying Red Army and annexed to the USSR – a step never recognized by a great many Western democracies. No longer would Baltic teams compete at the Olympic Games under their own flags. Three members of the European community, hijacked by the USSR, simply went missing for half a century. Although Estonia and her two neighbors to the south – Latvia and Lithuania – are often referred to nowadays as former Soviet Republics, they were not in fact secessionist parts of Russia that broke away from Moscow in 1991, but ought to be seen instead as “submerged nations”, whose occupation finally came to an end as Boris Yeltsin took his seat in the Kremlin.

Nobody can Hear us

When I think of Estonia and her forcible incorporation into the USSR by the Soviet Union, I am often reminded of Kitty Genovese, the New York City woman who, in 1964, was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. The Genovese case became know for the psychological phenomenon called the “bystander effect”, in which violence is perpetrated on someone within hearing of neighbors, but the cries are not noticed. Estonian President Konstantin Pats was forcibly taken away in 1940 by the secret police of the Soviet Union, and was held incommunicado in insane asylums until his death in Tver, Russia in 1956. Pats is shown below, before and after his persecution.



The fate of the Endla Theater – the birthplace of Estonian independence – was not any prettier.

The Endla Theater in its Glory

The golden era of Estonian independence had also been the heyday of the Endla, where up to 600 persons at a time gathered to enjoy performances of plays and operas by Ibsen, Shakespeare, Strauss, Verdi and many others. When Hitler’s occupying army retreated and the Red Army reentered the country in 1944, staging a supposed “liberation” of Estonia, Parnu was caught between the fighting sides. 1944 was a bad year for Estonia in general. Bombs dropped by the Soviet Air Force totally gutted the baroque pearl that had been the city of Narva, and in the capital of Tallinn, 3,000 buildings were destroyed in one night, in a firestorm with heavy loss of lives that can only be described as a version of Dresden in miniature. In her memoirs, local resident Elsbet Parek described the situation in Parnu: “Down below, the Germans torched and destroyed, while the Russians bombed from above.”

Despite the combat and the flames that did considerable harm to Parnu in the fall of 1944, the walls of the Endla Theater remained standing, and there is no doubt that the building could have been salvaged, had there been the will to do so. Only the roof of the building had burned during the war, but the supporting structures were of sturdy masonry and still serviceable, as contemporaries have written. A close acquaintance of mine who grew up in Parnu after the war once recounted that when he was a child in the fifties, it was common for drunks to use the ruins of the Endla theater as a public bathroom. In September, 1951, the Parnu city government proposed that the theater be restored, but the Soviet authorities replied that there was no way that the style of the theater could be made to harmonize with the requirements posed by “contemporary (Stalinist) architectural expectations”.

The Endla in Ruins

After the war, the workers of the theater were relocated to another building. In an article that appeared in the Estonian SL Ohtuleht newspaper on May 4, 2006, Olaf Esna, the Director of the Parnu theater during the post-war years, states that the real issue for the Soviet authorities was that the “…veranda of the Endla Theater was the place that the Estonian Declaration of Independence had first been made public…” on February 23, 1918.

The Final Torment of the Endla Theater

The Soviet occupation regime felt it couldn’t afford to allow this reminder of Estonian independence to remain. On March 6, 1961 at 2:30 pm in front of a crowd of people, demolition charges were set off. A dull thud was heard. The walls of the Endla quivered for a moment as if in doubt, but then collapsed to the ground. Several nearby windows were shattered, and for a while, the center of Parnu was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and dust. Later, a box-shaped Soviet style hotel was built on the same location. When I worked in Germany in the eighties, before Estonia regained her independence, one of my colleagues – a person from one of the Western European countries who knew that I am Estonian – brought a copy of a men’s girly magazine from his country to work, and showed me an article with photos that had been surreptitiously been taken in this very Parnu hotel and smuggled out of occupied Estonia. Intended as men’s guide to the underground bordellos of Estonia, the story featured a number of photos of prostitutes engaged in what it is that prostitutes do.

Every country in the world that has attained sovereignty in the face of adversity has its own saga in connection with the struggle for independence, but few have a tale to tell as rich with ironic symbolism as the story of the Endla Theater.

Estonia is Back Again

Lack of freedom and poor health are similar phenomena. Young people, with the exception of sick kids, generally don’t regard heath as a very important topic, much as pensions are a topic they tend to avoid. You only hear old folks saying that “you don’t appreciate being in good health until you develop ailments”. Freedom is a lot like that too. The American people, even in their wildest dreams, could probably never imagine Independence Hall in Philadelphia – jealously and proudly guarded by Park Police – in ruins, being used as a public toilet or a house of prostitution. The point being that occupation powers can do incredible harm to the well-being, dignity, and even the very physical appearance of the territories of cultures that have been vanquished.

Soon, ceremonies will take place in the city of Parnu on the Baltic Sea in Estonia at the place where the Endla Theater – the birthplace of Estonian independence – was blown up by a hostile power in 1961. 90 years ago on February 23, Estonians proclaimed to the world in Parnu their desire to be free. Although actual memories of the Endla Theater now live on only in the elderly, Estonians of all ages give thanks that the only soldiers they will see in Parnu on Independence Day, other than the ones accompanying invited dignitaries, are their own. The message to everyone in the world who enjoys freedom is that one really does need to remember to give thanks in a conscious manner for liberty – something that can all too easily be replaced by a life in the absence of freedom.

Take it from the Estonians, we know what we’re talking about.

Jüri Estam is a communications consultant who lives in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. He was a member of the Congress of Estonia, one of the predecessors to the current Parliament of Estonia. Prior to that, he covered human rights and other topics for the Estonian Language Service of Radio Free Europe while based in Munich and Scandinavia. Among other things, he has hosted a live prime time current affairs program on Estonian National Television, been the Managing Director of the largest chain of commercial radio stations in the country, and produced a dozen documentary films.

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Russian Smears Against Estonia

The always brilliant Edward Lucas exposes the egregious litany of smears being lobbed by barbaric Russia at little Estonia:

READ the Russian-language internet, and you will find Estonia portrayed as a hell-hole ruled by Nazi sympathisers who organise a grotesque form of apartheid hypocritically endorsed by the European Union. “Nazi” and “apartheid” are strong words that should be used sparingly and precisely out of their original context—and probably not at all. (A good rule in most discussions is that the first person to call the other a Nazi automatically loses the argument.)

So it may be worth listing a few of the more grotesque unfairnesses and inaccuracies of the charge. Apartheid was the legally enforced separation of the peoples of South Africa, based on race (or more accurately, skin colour). Mingling of the races, from intermarriage to mixed swimming, was forbidden. Pass laws meant that blacks could not live in white areas. Apartheid was backed up by a ruthless secret police that on occasion murdered people, and had no hesitation in enforcing house arrest and exile.

Nazi sympathisers idolise Hitler, think that Jews invented the Holocaust (or, sometimes, that they deserved what they got), and believe that National Socialism was a glorious ideology destroyed by Judaeo-Bolshevism.

Absolutely none of that applies to Estonia. Not only do the authorities not prohibit contact between Estonians and Russians, they encourage it. Russians and Estonians mix freely everywhere. Some of Estonia’s top politicians, including the president and the leader of one of the main political parties have Russian family ties.

Estonians look back on the Nazi occupation with loathing. Their country was caught between the hammer and the anvil in 1939, and whatever they did, only suffering and destruction awaited them.

What really annoys the Kremlin crowd is that Estonians (like many others in eastern Europe) regarded the arrival of the Red Army in 1944-45 not as a liberation, but as the exchange of one ghastly occupation for another. That flatly contradicts the Kremlin’s revived Stalinist version of history, which puts Soviet wartime heroism and sacrifice at centre-stage, while assiduously obscuring all the historical context. Given how the Soviet Union treated Estonia in 1939-41, it is hardly surprising that those who fought the occupiers when they returned are regarded as heroes. But they were not Nazis, nor are those who admire them now.

Secondly, Estonians (like Latvians and Lithuanians) do not accept that their pre-war statehood was ever extinguished. Russia may like to think that the Soviet Union magnanimously granted independence to the three “Soviet Baltic Republics” in 1991. But the Balts see it differently: they regained their independence. In that view they are confirmed, more or less enthusiastically, by most western countries, which never recognised the Soviet annexation of 1940, and in some cases continued to accredit Baltic diplomats in dusty and deserted embassies.

On that basis, the hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens who moved to the Baltic from the 1950s onwards were migrants settling illegally in occupied territories. Post-Soviet Lithuania granted them citizenship automatically. But Estonia and Latvia, where the demographic position was more precarious, insisted that they apply for citizenship if they wanted it, and pass a simple test in language and history.

This was not about ethnicity: Russians who lived in Estonia before the occupation (then around 10% of the population) and their descendants regained citizenship automatically. And it has worked rather well. Nearly 150,000 people have gained Estonian citizenship; only 8.5% remain stateless.

Fifteen years on, Estonia’s policy may be too tough, or just right, or even too lax. Compared to most European countries’ citizenship laws, it is quite generous. In any event, calling it “apartheid” is not only nonsensical, but stupidly insulting, to a country that has responded with intelligence and restraint to a devastating historical injury.

Neo-Soviet Russia at the Gates of Military Hell

With Russia now attacking Georgia and the two countries on the brink of imperial war, it’s worthwhile remembering how many other former Soviet slave states the Kremlin may have set its sights on. Estonia, for instance. The the West doesn’t unify to nip this aggression in the bud, it will only grow and expand just like Hitler’s did until they go one step too far and World War III breaks out. The Peninsula reports:

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet yesterday stepped up the Baltic country’s war of words with former overlord Russia, accusing President Vladimir Putin and other leaders of tolerating “fascism”. Paet was countering Moscow’s accusations that Tallinn is allowing extremists to flourish and honour the pro-Nazi camp in World War II, notably because of a decision to shift a Soviet-era war memorial from the centre of the Estonian capital. In an opinion piece published Monday in the Postimees daily, Paet said Moscow was making “crazy accusations” about “neo-fascism” in Estonia while ignoring that such extremist views were taking hold at home. “The ideology now in formation in Russia shares dangerous similarities with the phenomenon of which Russian politicians are so fond of accusing Estonia,” Paet wrote. Paet singled out rising harassment of Estonians, which has included a campaign against the country’s ambassador to Moscow, as well as the deportation of hundreds of Georgians – accused of residing illegally in Russia – following a diplomatic spat. “One can come across notices on Moscow pub doors, stating that Estonians and Georgians are not served,” Paet claimed. “What ideology was it which tolerated about 70 years ago notices on businesses that people of certain origin are not served?” he said, in an apparent reference to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Pushing the Nazi comparison further, Paet lashed out at Putin – a former KGB officer – for taking part in ceremonies to mark the foundation of the Soviet secret police in 1917. “Can you imagine the leaders of Germany celebrating with great pomp the anniversary of the formation of the Gestapo? This is unthinkable and it would not happen,” he said. Relations between Estonia and Russia have remained rocky since 1991, when Estonia regained its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union after a five-decade occupation.

Barbaric Russian Hypocrisy on Estonia

When the West wants to impose sanctions on a country Russia likes, Russia says sanctions are ineffective and counter-productive. It favors negotiations with states like Iran. But what happens when a country Russia doesn’t like is involved? Then Russia is free to pursue sanctions and the world must butt out of Russia’s business. And, of course, Russia is free to use its only weapon, energy, to apply the sanctions despite its claims of being a “reliable partner” who will not weaponize energy. Russia is polarizing the entire world against it by picking on smaller countries who cannot defend themselves, just as in Soviet times. How can Russia expect meet any fate other than the one met by the USSR? TVNZ.com reports:

Russia’s state railways have ordered exporters to halve shipments of refined oil products, metals and coal via Estonia amid renewed political tensions with Tallinn, industry and trade sources said. “There was a meeting chaired by (Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei) Ivanov and he ordered that transit via Estonia be limited,” one industry source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A source close to Ivanov denied his boss had ordered the cut and state railways declined to comment.

But oil traders said major exporters of refined products on the route had already halved shipments. “It seems very similar to what we had earlier this year, although more exporters are likely to be affected,” one source said. Moscow’s relations with Tallinn hit a low in April when Estonia removed the statue of a Red Army soldier from the centre of its capital, angering Moscow and prompting state railways to order a complete halt of rail deliveries to Estonia. The ban was lifted after 10 days.

Trade sources warned that if supply disruptions last longer this time, exporters would be hurt by traffic backlogs and supply gluts inside Russia. Estonia is the transit route for 25 million tonnes per year of Russian fuel, or around a quarter of the country’s total oil products exports. It is also an important transit route for coal, metals, timber and chemicals. Many Russian politicians have called on state officials to stop re-exports of goods via Estonian ports, while Tallinn has said Moscow should be kicked out of the G8 Group of most industrialised nations for its controversial energy policies.

Glut fears

Problems have eased since May, although small firms had faced problems with gasoline and naphtha exports via Estonia. The new cuts will affect the most important product, fuel oil, mostly used by power stations. “All major fuel oil exporters – TNK-BP, Gazprom Neft and even Surgut’s Kirishi – have been told to re-route half their volumes to other destinations,” said a trader with a major operator on the route. “But I still don’t understand how it can be done, because nothing has changed since the last cut and there are no alternative routes for these volumes.” Russian Railways said in June it would cut the number of rail cars plying the Estonia export route to 980 per day from the usual 1,500.

It asked oil products exporters to seek alternative ports in Lithuania and Latvia and requested that timber cargoes go via Finland and coal via Ukraine and Russia’s Ust-Luga. Trading sources at Estonian terminals said they believed the new ban would not last long again: “What will Russia do with fuel oil, especially in the middle of summer? It doesn’t look serious to me,” said one. Russia has drastically cut transit shipments of oil via neighbouring states, especially Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in recent years after President Vladimir Putin called on the government to stop subsidising its neighbours with transit fees. Oil supplies are now mainly concentrated in Russia’s biggest Baltic Sea port, Primorsk. Russia also wants to build a major refined products export outlet there in addition to the ports of St Petersburg and Vysotsk, which already compete with Estonia.

Why Russians Need to Hate Estonia

Writing in New Europe Ott Lumi, a member of Estonian Parliament, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, explains why Russians “need to hate Estonia.”

I start with a question: “What era do I describe?” Head of Russian legislative body Duma threats to cut diplomatic relations with a EU country. Official youth organisation of the Russian president’s party is blocking for weeks the entrance of an embassy of an EU country in Moscow. During an interview a member of the organisation attacks the EU country’s ambassador with gas. It is suddenly prohibited for one of EU member states to sell its products to Russian market.

Yes! I’m talking about the 7th year of 21st century. The headline of my article refers to probably the best summary made by professor of semiotics in Tallinn University – Mihhail Lotman – concerning provocations organized by Russia towards Estonia at the end of April. Lotman’s concept is based on the comprehension that small country is a convenient enemy for Russia. Firstly, because Putin mainly chooses to provoke countries whose response is definitely civilised and secondly, no one ever really believes that Estonia could be really a threat to Russia. Lotman also succinctly compares Putin to Alexandrer the III whose favourite aphorism was: “Russia has only two allies, army and fleet.”

Riots which were organised in Tallinn on the night of 27th of April regarding the removal of so called “bronze soldier,” showed clearly that Russia’s real interest has not been the memory of those who died during the fights in the Second World war, but to use this controversial symbol for Estonians and Russians, to destabilise the political atmosphere in Estonia. For Estonia’s government it became clear already some time before the provocations started, that it is not possible to hold any longer a statue in the centre of Tallinn, which for some symbolises victory over the Nazi army, but for a large majority the start of Soviet occupation. The way how the criminals and marauders destroyed, burned down and simply stole the property in the historic Tallinn city on the already mentioned night, was clear approval that the decision to remove the statue was absolutely appropriate. For now the situation for the majority of Estonian citizens is solved, no matter their ethnicity. The bronze soldier is staying in the Tallinn military graveyard. During coming nearest weeks the buried will be placed to the same place, so they can rest there together with Estonian, Russian, British and other soldiers who have fought on the ground of Estonia.

It is quite clear that Russia had a logical ground to play demonic games with the souls of these Estonian Russian-speaking inhabitants who have deep personal relations with the topic of World War II. Both Estonians and Russians lost thousands of fellow natives in the WW II and generation who remembers this tragedy still lives among us. War and death don’t choose victims and all of them are worth to commemorate. Of course, what concerns the war-graves, then Estonia is not unique in that sense.

There are hundreds of occasions in the world where reburying has taken place. For example, Egypt and Israel exchanged without any treaties in the middle of seventies remains of soldiers. Indonesia in 1991 gave to Japan the remains of 3500 soldiers. North Korea voluntarily opened the graves of 200 US soldiers who died in Korean war and gave them over to United States. Under special treaties some remains have been reburied between Russia and Finland, between Estonia and Germany and etc. So reburying remains of those died in the war to more dignified locations is not merely a normal practice, but a elementary practice of a civilised state

So let’s come back to the question why Russia uses Estonia’s internal matters in order to vilify Estonia’s public image and also disturb normal process of integration of Russian minority into Estonian society? All the causes could be actually driven under one common denominator – identity crises and threat to inner stability what could possibly be driven out from that.

The main cause for such identity crises is the fact that Kremlin still cannot accept its realistic role in the today’s world. It is weird to watch that a country with GDP per capita far behind the poorest in EU is still trying to pretend to act like an Empire, except concentrating to its internal problems. With a rapidly worsening demographic situation and critical living-conditions in many areas, it is mainly just the high level of oil prices in the world market, which makes it possible for the current Kremlin administration to play the revival of Soviet Union.

And, of course, we see evidence of some results, both symbolic and realistic. We hear Soviet anthem again in the international sports events, we have heard Putin’s statement, who said that “the collapse of Soviet Union was the greatest disaster of 20th century.” We have just seen the brutal action against Mr Kasparov and his allies in opposition to Kremlin. Of course, the basis of all such pseudo-empire action is in essence the fact that Russia still has not properly expounded the communist regime as such. Russia is still the main player in the international field, which opposes the criminalisation of communist totalitarian regime, which killed the same amount or even more people as Nazi regime. The decision of European Commission to organise official public discussion in one of the Baltic countries on the issue of communist crimes, is impressive.

Important factor, why Russia continuously creates image of enemies through massive propaganda is the fact of internal instability. We see that this process intensifies before every presidential election in Russia.

To conclude: Estonia is a democratic country that 16 years ago broke free from an evil empire where destiny of many nations was greatly damaged. There is no question about significant problems between different nations living in Estonia. Of course, the process of integration has its drawbacks time to time, but this is the problem we face together in different European countries.

We also face the need to finally contest some dark spots in our near history in order to cut the feet of possible false propaganda.

Annals of Jaw-Dropping Russian Hypocrisy

The Moscow Times reports that Russia has no problem dismantling and moving the war memorials of other countries, yet it will not allow other countries that privilege when Russian memorials are at issue. Truly, this type of hypocrisy is the hallmark of a barbaric, uncivilized nation.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry on Friday demanded an explanation from Russia over the removal of a monument to a World War II pilot. The monument to Vasyl Poydenko in the Moscow region town of Aprelevka was pulled down earlier in the week. The monument, a stylized pair of broken wings about 5 meters across, was taken down as part of a project to widen the Moscow-Kiev highway but will be re-erected after the construction is completed, Russian officials said. The Ukrainian ministry’s note demanded that Russia state its official position on the monument. A decision by Estonia to relocate a war monument last month sparked days of clashes in Tallin and a sharp condemnation from Russia. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Friday that it was up to Moscow to ease tensions: “If relations will improve, then 90 percent of it is up to Moscow.”

Russians: They Just Don’t Get It

Here’s a hot one: Web planet reports that “a code to ban Estonian IP’s was published on LiveJournal by Russian blogger. In his post the author encourages readers to embed the code into their websites and blogs as a protest againts moving a monument to Soviet soldier from Tallin’s streets to the city cemetry. Those who comment are mostly pointing at technological shortsite of this action – first of all this code would ban Russians who live in Estonia from visiting Russian websites. They offer alternative algorithms, like banning based on language preferences in users’ browsers.”

So, let La Russophobe see if she understands. These morons think Estonians go cruising around the Internet looking to access Russian websites, and will suffer enormously if they can’t reach them? That hardly seems likely . . . except of course for the Russians who live in Estonia and prefer Russia to Estonia, and now these Russians are blocking those Russians from communciating with the outside world. Or maybe they think that non-Russians read the ZheZhe blogosphere and are just waiting to help Russians out by banning Estonians, for instance, in the EU countries. That’s possible, of course, since state-controlled media doesn’t tell Russians what kind of bashing they are getting in Samara from the EU states.

Once again, Russia shoots itself in the head in order to punish its “enemies.”

And so it goes in Russia.

Russians: They Just Don’t Get It

Here’s a hot one: Web planet reports that “a code to ban Estonian IP’s was published on LiveJournal by Russian blogger. In his post the author encourages readers to embed the code into their websites and blogs as a protest againts moving a monument to Soviet soldier from Tallin’s streets to the city cemetry. Those who comment are mostly pointing at technological shortsite of this action – first of all this code would ban Russians who live in Estonia from visiting Russian websites. They offer alternative algorithms, like banning based on language preferences in users’ browsers.”

So, let La Russophobe see if she understands. These morons think Estonians go cruising around the Internet looking to access Russian websites, and will suffer enormously if they can’t reach them? That hardly seems likely . . . except of course for the Russians who live in Estonia and prefer Russia to Estonia, and now these Russians are blocking those Russians from communciating with the outside world. Or maybe they think that non-Russians read the ZheZhe blogosphere and are just waiting to help Russians out by banning Estonians, for instance, in the EU countries. That’s possible, of course, since state-controlled media doesn’t tell Russians what kind of bashing they are getting in Samara from the EU states.

Once again, Russia shoots itself in the head in order to punish its “enemies.”

And so it goes in Russia.

Russians: They Just Don’t Get It

Here’s a hot one: Web planet reports that “a code to ban Estonian IP’s was published on LiveJournal by Russian blogger. In his post the author encourages readers to embed the code into their websites and blogs as a protest againts moving a monument to Soviet soldier from Tallin’s streets to the city cemetry. Those who comment are mostly pointing at technological shortsite of this action – first of all this code would ban Russians who live in Estonia from visiting Russian websites. They offer alternative algorithms, like banning based on language preferences in users’ browsers.”

So, let La Russophobe see if she understands. These morons think Estonians go cruising around the Internet looking to access Russian websites, and will suffer enormously if they can’t reach them? That hardly seems likely . . . except of course for the Russians who live in Estonia and prefer Russia to Estonia, and now these Russians are blocking those Russians from communciating with the outside world. Or maybe they think that non-Russians read the ZheZhe blogosphere and are just waiting to help Russians out by banning Estonians, for instance, in the EU countries. That’s possible, of course, since state-controlled media doesn’t tell Russians what kind of bashing they are getting in Samara from the EU states.

Once again, Russia shoots itself in the head in order to punish its “enemies.”

And so it goes in Russia.

Russians: They Just Don’t Get It

Here’s a hot one: Web planet reports that “a code to ban Estonian IP’s was published on LiveJournal by Russian blogger. In his post the author encourages readers to embed the code into their websites and blogs as a protest againts moving a monument to Soviet soldier from Tallin’s streets to the city cemetry. Those who comment are mostly pointing at technological shortsite of this action – first of all this code would ban Russians who live in Estonia from visiting Russian websites. They offer alternative algorithms, like banning based on language preferences in users’ browsers.”

So, let La Russophobe see if she understands. These morons think Estonians go cruising around the Internet looking to access Russian websites, and will suffer enormously if they can’t reach them? That hardly seems likely . . . except of course for the Russians who live in Estonia and prefer Russia to Estonia, and now these Russians are blocking those Russians from communciating with the outside world. Or maybe they think that non-Russians read the ZheZhe blogosphere and are just waiting to help Russians out by banning Estonians, for instance, in the EU countries. That’s possible, of course, since state-controlled media doesn’t tell Russians what kind of bashing they are getting in Samara from the EU states.

Once again, Russia shoots itself in the head in order to punish its “enemies.”

And so it goes in Russia.

Russians: They Just Don’t Get It

Here’s a hot one: Web planet reports that “a code to ban Estonian IP’s was published on LiveJournal by Russian blogger. In his post the author encourages readers to embed the code into their websites and blogs as a protest againts moving a monument to Soviet soldier from Tallin’s streets to the city cemetry. Those who comment are mostly pointing at technological shortsite of this action – first of all this code would ban Russians who live in Estonia from visiting Russian websites. They offer alternative algorithms, like banning based on language preferences in users’ browsers.”

So, let La Russophobe see if she understands. These morons think Estonians go cruising around the Internet looking to access Russian websites, and will suffer enormously if they can’t reach them? That hardly seems likely . . . except of course for the Russians who live in Estonia and prefer Russia to Estonia, and now these Russians are blocking those Russians from communciating with the outside world. Or maybe they think that non-Russians read the ZheZhe blogosphere and are just waiting to help Russians out by banning Estonians, for instance, in the EU countries. That’s possible, of course, since state-controlled media doesn’t tell Russians what kind of bashing they are getting in Samara from the EU states.

Once again, Russia shoots itself in the head in order to punish its “enemies.”

And so it goes in Russia.

Essel on Russian "History"

History for Russians by Russians
A View of the World in a Fairground Distorting Mirrorby Dave Essel

Introduction

History is a funny thing. At war, one country’s victory is another’s defeat. In an age of mind-deadening political correctness, the question has been raised in France as to whether it is right for the London end of the Channel Tunnel line to terminate at Waterloo Station. There is still time for brain dead politically correct Austrians, Russians, and Brits to call for the renaming of Paris’ Gare d’Austerlitz. I was partially educated in French schools, in which I was frequently referred to as the ‘sale Anglais’; when I went to continue my schooling in England, I instantly became the ‘filthy Frog’. It’s all relative, it’s all in the past, and most of the time it’s fun and a good lesson in life. Behind relativity lie facts and one can strive to order them, understand them, and interpret and re-interpret them as our understanding and knowledge grows. If done with probity, this is a good and useful thing. Proper historians, and others such as serious journalists, can usefully revue and reassemble the known facts with a view to making historiographical and psychological sense of the past and this becomes a useful lead-in to the present.

These concepts are platitudes because they are universally accepted: an understanding of the past is a good thing because it makes it possible to comprehend the present and, one hopes, create a better future; nations who do not make a point of recording and studying their past are condemned to a vicious circle of repetitions of previous mistakes; nations that deliberately create lies about the past for propaganda purposes are always fascists of the right or left and will only make things worse for themselves in the long run.

One can therefore group countries by the general attitude within them towards their history and the wider world’s. Some continually try to gather more and more factual information in order to gain an ever better level of understanding, some are nonchalant, and some deliberately distort what little they know today in pursuit of momentary political aims and to hell with the future consequences. It comes as no surprise of course that Russia stands firmly in the third group. This is a country which has not come to historiographical terms with Tsarism, with its revolution of 1917, with its Civil War and the manufactured famines of collectivisation, with its archipelago of injustice, and with its long-delayed ‘bourgeois revolution’ following the collapse of the Soviet Union. With no serious examination of its history, it can only be expected – in fact it can be guaranteed – that the absence of such understanding will lead to Russia selecting its course more or less at random since it does not know at any one time where it is coming from. The consequences of such will be generally negative, bar a few lucky exceptions, due to lack of control. If to this mixture one adds deliberate lies about the past in response to party political aims of the day, one can safely predict that the consequences of actions based on them will practically without fail be severely negative as such actions will not have been grounded in historiographical or psychological reality.

The Soviet Union created just such a historical wonderland, managed to keep the fantasy bubble going for a short while (though it was costly to the three or four generations who paid to keep it going), and then it burst.

Now there is evidence that the new Russia is working on creating yet another bubble. Living in it is bound to hurt a lot of people and when it bursts…

A journal called Nashe Vremya

Your frogman in Russia’s printed sewage has come across in his explorations for LR a journal called Nashe Vremya, subtitled the No.1 analytical journal, the current issue of which seems to be dedicated to Estonia and general denigration of the Baltic republics. Googling it did not help much. It has been coming out for a year and has a slick website and and is hosted on fast servers. The only information about the journal available on the site is that is published by OOO Nashe Vremya Publishers, Moscow address and phone number, Editor-in-Chief Russian Gorevoi. VZGLYAD reprints articles from it and links to it. VZGLYAD is linked from Komsomolka. In an attempt to clarify whether it is a rich hate-sheet of no real import or something more significant, I phoned the editorial offices and asked where it was for sale. A pleasant Russian politely told me it was easily available in Moscow and other major Russian cities and, in reply to my question, told me the circulation is 50000. To understand the scale of this, the circulation of Russian Newsweek is 50000 as well. It would seem therefore that Nashe Vremya is more than just a hate-sheet and is a real actor in the drive to poison Russian minds.

Nashe Vremya’s inclinations are seriously fascist. This week’s issue headlines the following articles: Estonia Flings history on the Rubbish Dump, Holocaust: Whether You Went to Treblinka or Palestine Was Decided in the Ghetto; Anti-Terror: Did the English Secret Services Supply the Inaccurate Lead About Forthcoming Terrorist Actions? … This article below, however, is a real curiosity: it appears to be, if one assumes the sanity of the author, a Russian chauvinist White-Guardist piece.

Translator’s Note: When translating, I find it immeasurably harder to translate nonsense and speciousness than to translate serious texts. In the absence of logical flow, meaning, if any, has to be teased out of verbiage and this is sometimes not easy. I apologise if the translation below does not flow nicely. Translatability is a good test, in my view, of whether something has been well written. (For a positive example, most articles in The Economist can usually be read out loud in Russian with barely a pause for thought.) The article below is scatter-brained, laced with insinuendo (not my coinage but a nice word), and is great fun for deconstructors since it is in the language of an unconscious racist and fascist. For some the flavour of great-Russian chauvinism will be enough. For those who want decipher the author’s cherry-picking of historical facts, more realistic outlines can be found here and here. Even if you are a total moral relativist (not likely in the case of LR readers) and think that history is no more than a battle of presentations, the Estonians win hands down.

Delirium is Not A Virtue
The Baltic’s Historical Guilt Before Russia

Yelena Chudinova Nashe Vremya

We Russians are not vindictive. That is nice and not objectionable. By our lack of vindictiveness we show the world that we are at heart Christian, even if we have dived into atheism and pagan superstition. However, it is very important to see clearly the line dividing forgivingness and forgetfulness. Because the latter is not a virtue.

Small but proud Latvia has decided to present us with a bill for our “occupation’ amounting to a round sum of about 50 times in annual budget. This may sound funny but our historical recollection differs somewhat.

Separate Betrayal

“It was the Bolsheviks who ceded the territory to us and gave us independence,” it was objected to me during a recent debate. “We are a small country and need to look out for ourselves.”

Our media have on numerous occasions raised the issue of the bestial crimes committed by the fascist veterans parading their 3rd Reich medals down streets where old men wearing the medals of the victors over fascism are beaten up and dragged into prison for so doing. Much has been said about double standards, about how the EC on the one hand publicly slapped Prince William for wearing a masquerade Nazi uniform with a swastika armband and at the same time is blind to far from playful Nazi demonstrations in which official figures have taken part. It is right to bring such things up. But it is sad that facts about events that took place just a couple of decades earlier – a mere moment ago in historical terms – do not get mentioned.

An Estonian journalist once asked Putin – why do you Russians not accept the blame for the occupation so that we can get over it and live in friendship thereafter? The president referred that personage, who had been speaking in perfect Russian, to documents dating back some fifteen years. Here, however, I will provide the answer in a different way.

Strange as this may sound to Estonians, they had (oh, the shock of it!) their own communists, although they were so feeble that without our North Western Army, the Estonians would not have been able in 1919 to defend the town of Revel from the Estonian Workers’ Commune. That was in January, however. While home-grown Estonian expropriators were rushing about wildly looking for things to expropriate, relations between the NWA, which was based in Estonia, and the Estonians were perfectly happy. Not fraternal, obviously, but happy enough. Estonia wanted not only military cooperation from the NWA but also a guarantee of independence. But how can a military command consider itself as having the authority to hand over land belonging to the crown? It’s our job to fight, drive out the Reds, and let the Estonians sort out their issues with the legitimate government. Had the NWA folk but known! But you were not Estonians, you were Russian officers, men of honour. You would not have it in you to deceive, even if you had known what lay ahead.

The Estonians bided their time for their stab in the back until autumn 1919, just before the nearly successful advance of the NWA into Petrograd. The retreat, historians emphasise, was by no means a catastrophe. The army just needed to rest, regroup, and at the same time relocate to safer parts some 40000 civilian refugees, in non-military terms their wives, children, sisters, elderly parents and others in fear of the Red Terror. The Army withdrew under heavy fighting, taking losses but weakening the Reds as well. Then suddenly the NWA found that access to its own supplies in the rear was being denied; it was being prevented from crossing the Narova River.

The 7th Red Army on Trotsky’s orders thrice attacked Narva and was thrice flung back from the city by the NWA. They had no idea that the Estonians, behind the backs of their defenders, were preparing a criminal compact with the Reds. This eternally shameful act of Estonia’s is called the 1920 Peace Treaty of Tartu between the RSFSR and Estonia in Soviet history books [TN – what the author cannot bring herself to mention are the key words of this treaty which says inter alia that Russian relinquishes “forever its rights of sovereignty over the Estonian people and country’]. The more blood the Russians shed for Narva, the better Estonia’s betrayal would work out. The plot began on 5 December and the Red’s last attempt to force the Narova took place on 17 December. After this, Chicherin sent an order from Moscow to the Soviet delegates to make territorial concessions to Estonia: a large chunk of territory around Pskov and along the Narova (with a population of 60000 ethnic Russians into the bargain) – the very territories that the freedom-loving Estonians tried to gyp [sic] the Russians out of in the 1990s and which are shown as Estonia on Estonian school maps.

The Reds stopped attacking but of course could not go anywhere. Where was there for the White defenders of Estonia to go? Across the Narova. On the far bank there was nothing for them: their belongings –1000 wagons of provisions, clothes, medicines, ammunition, personal effects – had all been expropriated by General Laidoner for the benefit of the newborn Estonian republic. Once over the Narova, the NWA was disarmed, any good greatcoats taken off their backs, and gold such as crosses ripped from around their necks. What could they do: resist? They had brought their own hostages in the form of wives and children with them.

“But the Bolsheviks ceded the territory to us and gave us our independence,” someone objected during a recent debate. “We’re a small nation and had to do what we could for ourselves.” Fine, my dear little friends, I said then and say again now. You have successfully assumed the morality of the prison-camps – “You die today and I’ll die tomorrow”. To put it in terms of a children’s story, since you were so small, you said to the big bad wolf “Don’t eat me, eat him”. But any terms set with a big bad wolf don’t last long. You helped feed the communist flame. That system then grew up. Twenty years later, it wanted to eat you up and that time you didn’t have any one to feed it instead of yourselves. So who should be apologising to you?! Those who occupied you?! You occupied yourselves twenty years before the occupation when you robbed us, your defenders, of our boots and wedding rings!

You occupied yourselves when you pedantically fulfilled all the articles of the criminal treaty with the Bolsheviks! The NWA was to be reduced to nothing – and that was done. Because, besides territory, you were also given something else – 15 million in gold. What for, can you say? For Russian blood. The disarmed and robbed NWA was denied right of movement about the republic, slaved at forced labour in slate quarries, or was driven into concentration camps such as the one at Paeskjul [TN: transliterated from the Russian]. It was forbidden to give employment to Russian officers. So they were unable to feed themselves in Estonia, nor were they allowed to leave. This was total annihilation, payment in exchange for Judas’ silver. The killing of a Russian officer was not always considered worthy even of a fine.

Of course, all this was done with a backward glance, a permanent backward glance at the current “elder brother”. Some small nations are always in desperate need of a strong back behind which they can indulge their baseness. More recently it was Hitler, then it was the Entente with Great Britain at its head.

Estonians, if you had not betrayed your alliances, you would of course not have been handed your independence on a plate. But 20 years later you would then also not have ridden the cattle wagons to Siberia. Some 50 years after that, you would have been able to gyp [sic, again] yourselves independence though some sort of civilised referendum. The main thing is that decent people only make agreements on any subject whatsoever with legitimate authorities. So you have no one to blame. But we should at long last blame you – for Petrograd, which would probably have been taken if Estonia had honoured its obligations to its allies; for the annihilation of the NWA; for the war taking a wrong turn; and finally, for Soviet power.

Some will object that Soviet power came about not just because of our defeat on the North-Western front. That’s true. And that means it is time to talk about Latvia.

[TN: we skip a similar long tirade about the horrid Latvians and move straight to the conclusion]

No better than peasants

It is natural and quite understable how Germanophobes of the first half of the 20th century – Estonian and Latvian – should rush to join the battalions of the SS. A slave always thinks his current master is horrid. Much more attractive is a master who may only possibly become so and who furthermore dangles some carrots and even offers an opportunity to get one’s own back against the former master. Whether they really believed that the Germans would let them have some sort of independence is immaterial but the idea of becoming overseers over Russians was just too tempting. Let Russian, Byelorussians, Jews and Gypsies be burnt by the tens of thousands in crematoria, let children be murdered, “let’s you die today, I won’t even die tomorrow.” I’m an Ostdeutsch, I’m semi-human!

Estonia and Latvia were practically never states, they were always under someone. These nations did not even have a nobility of their own [i.e a ruling élite - NV Editor’s note].

It might seem that there is not much sense in mentioning such a thing today when the nobility have been pushed out by a moneyed élite. However, nations which have not in their past had a nobility are a little like a person who has entered adulthood straight from childhood, bypassing adolescence. Some connections have been made wrong in his brain; he’s not completely au fait; he needs supervision, not to say care. For this reason it is pointless to try to argue with Estonians or Latvians, pointless to try to convince them of anything, pointless to call on their conscience. When I seem to address them, it’s purely rhetorical. The Estonian and the Latvian can be a decent an honest person, but he has no historical conscience. It just does not exist in him. He possesses an atrophied organ of historical shame.

The only language that our neighbour understands iss that of sanctions and harsh policies with no concessions. A proper understanding of our common past provides moral support to us in this. Most of the facts given in this article are easily available, having been published in periodicals, books, and the internet. But why is it that not a single one of these facts was mentioned by any government spokesman with regard to the revolting scandals about our May 9 celebrations?

The mind of yesterday’s genetic peasant views any concession as weakness. And, as in 1919, behind these uppity peasants stand states who do not wish us particularly well. A show of political will is not only a matter of historical remembrance but a matter of survival. And we do want to survive, don’t we?

Russian Declares Cyberwar on Estonia

Reader Jeremy Putley points to a story in the Guardian which indicates that Russia has harnesssed the power of a million computers to launch a cyber war against Estonia. Does Russia really believe that cyber war, nothing but terrorism, will lead to winning respect and prestige in the community of nations? How does it do anything but confirm the world’s existing stereotype of Russia a rogue, criminal state?

Estonia said yesterday that at least 1m computers had been used to launch an unprecedented wave of cyber-attacks on the small Baltic state over the past few weeks and indicated the damage inflicted had run into tens of millions of euros.

Despite earlier explicit accusations that Russia was behind the offensive, however, officials in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, backed away from accusing the Kremlin directly. The outbreak of the attack, with hundreds of thousands of hits bombarding Estonian websites in order to jam them and make them unusable, coincided three weeks ago with the climax of an ugly dispute between Moscow and Tallinn over a Soviet second world war memorial in the Estonian capital.

Jaak Aaviksoo, Estonia’s defence minister, said yesterday that some of the attackers early in the onslaught had been identified as using internet provider addresses from Russian state institutions. But he said: “There is not sufficient evidence of a [Russian] governmental role.”

Russian officials have denied any state responsibility, suggested the Estonians should prove their allegations, and have said the culprits could have faked Russian-origin internet provider addresses.

The issue was to be raised last night or today by European leaders at the EU-Russian summit in Samara.

Russia has said EU solidarity with Estonia in the row over second world war memorials is misplaced and hypocritical, and has charged Estonia with barbarism.European capitals have been shocked by the fierceness of the Russian reaction to the spat with Estonia, entailing trade and transport blockades, a siege of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, an attempt to attack the Estonian ambassador there, and calls for the resignation of the Estonian government.

The internet attacks targeted Estonian government websites and those of political parties, banks, media organisations, and other companies. There have been three distinct waves over the past three weeks, the last of which appeared to be subsiding yesterday.

Estonian officials are determined to press the phenomenon on to Nato and EU agendas. Cyber-security is expected to be discussed at a meeting of Nato officials next month. Nato experts are also helping Estonia to investigate the attacks.

Hillar Aarelaid, the official in charge of trying to counter the attacks, said yesterday that most of the websites targeted were operating normally. As well as the volume of “malicious traffic” from Russia, analysts had also traced attackers to the US, Canada, Vietnam, Brazil and other countries, he said.

There have been several such “denial of service” attacks in recent years, in connection with the Iraq war, and during the cartoons crisis in Denmark two years ago. Nato websites were also targeted as long ago as 1999, during the war in Kosovo. But in scale and duration, the current campaign is believed to be the worst yet.

Another reader points out that the BBC is calling Russia a nation of “cyber pirates.” Either the Kremlin is launching these attacks, or it is doing nothing to stop them, or it’s powerless to stop them. Any way you look at it, the picture is a bleak one for the rule of law in Russia.

Estonia, one of the most internet-savvy states in the European Union, has been under sustained attack from hackers since the ethnic Russian riots sparked in late April by its removal of a Soviet war memorial from Tallinn city centre. Websites of the tiny Baltic state’s government, political parties, media and business community have had to shut down temporarily after being hit by denial-of-service attacks, which swamp them with external requests. Some sites were defaced to redirect users to images of Soviet soldiers and quotations from Martin Luther King about resisting “evil”. And hackers who hit the ruling Reform Party’s website at the height of the tension on 29 April left a spurious message that the Estonian prime minister and his government were asking forgiveness of Russians and promising to return the statue to its original site.

Getting hit hard

The government’s response has been to close down sites under attack to external internet servers while trying to keep them open to users inside Estonia, but the attacks are taking a toll and have been likened by the defence ministry to “terrorist activities”. “Of course [sites] can be put up again, but they can be attacked also again,” Mikhail Tammet, head of IT security at the Estonian defence ministry, told BBC World Service’s Newshour programme. Estonia, he said, depended largely on the internet because of the country’s “paperless government” and web-based banking. “If these services are made slower, we of course lose economically,” he added. While the government in Tallinn has not blamed the Russian authorities directly for the attacks, its foreign ministry has published a list of IP addresses “where the attacks were made from”. The alleged offenders include addresses in the Russian government and presidential administration.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s chief spokesman, told the BBC’s Russian Service there was “no way the [Russian] state [could] be involved in cyber terrorism”. “When you look at the IP addresses showing where the attacks are coming from, then there’s a wide selection of states from around the world,” he added. “But it does not mean that foreign governments are behind these attacks. Moreover, as you probably know, IP addresses can be fake.” Russia’s own presidential website, he said, came under attack itself “hundreds” of times daily.

‘Private attacks’

David Emm, senior technical consultant at Moscow-based antivirus software company Kaspersky Lab, believes the hackers are likely to be “younger types who, in other days, would have been writing and spreading viruses”. “I would not be surprised if switched-on people were using technical means of expressing themselves,” he told the BBC News website’s technology correspondent, Mark Ward. Anton Nossik, one of the pioneers of the Russian internet, sees no reason to believe in Russian state involvement in the hacking, beyond the fanning of anti-Estonian sentiment. “Unlike a nuclear or conventional military attack, you do not need a government for such attacks,” he told the BBC News website. “There were anti-Estonian sentiments, fuelled by Russian state propaganda, and the sentiments were voiced in articles, blogs, forums and the press, so it’s natural that hackers were part of the sentiment and acted accordingly.” Hackers, he points out, need very little money and can hire servers with high bandwidth in countries as diverse as the US and South Korea. The expertise is “basic”, he says, with virus scripts and source codes available online and there are “hundreds of thousands of groups who have the resources to launch a massive virus attack”. “The principle is very simple – you just send a shed load of requests simultaneously,” he says. Estonia’s blocking of external servers is in his opinion a smart response but can only work for a country of “1.4 million with a non-international language”. In Russia, for instance, foreign servers account for 60% of the net, he says. For Mr Nossik, of more concern is how the global net can protect itself against the big virus attacks like the Backbone Denial-of-Service attack in February which hit three key servers making up part of the internet’s backbone. “Compared to the scale of the problem in general, Estonia is small,” he says.

Russia Prosecutes the First State-Sponsored Cyberwar

Reader Jeremy Putley points to a story in the Guardian which indicates that Russia has harnesssed the power of a million computers to launch a cyber war against Estonia. Does Russia really believe that cyber war, nothing but terrorism, will lead to winning respect and prestige in the community of nations? How does it do anything but confirm the world’s existing stereotype of Russia a rogue, criminal state?

Estonia said yesterday that at least 1m computers had been used to launch an unprecedented wave of cyber-attacks on the small Baltic state over the past few weeks and indicated the damage inflicted had run into tens of millions of euros.

Despite earlier explicit accusations that Russia was behind the offensive, however, officials in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, backed away from accusing the Kremlin directly. The outbreak of the attack, with hundreds of thousands of hits bombarding Estonian websites in order to jam them and make them unusable, coincided three weeks ago with the climax of an ugly dispute between Moscow and Tallinn over a Soviet second world war memorial in the Estonian capital.

Jaak Aaviksoo, Estonia’s defence minister, said yesterday that some of the attackers early in the onslaught had been identified as using internet provider addresses from Russian state institutions. But he said: “There is not sufficient evidence of a [Russian] governmental role.”

Russian officials have denied any state responsibility, suggested the Estonians should prove their allegations, and have said the culprits could have faked Russian-origin internet provider addresses.

The issue was to be raised last night or today by European leaders at the EU-Russian summit in Samara.

Russia has said EU solidarity with Estonia in the row over second world war memorials is misplaced and hypocritical, and has charged Estonia with barbarism.European capitals have been shocked by the fierceness of the Russian reaction to the spat with Estonia, entailing trade and transport blockades, a siege of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, an attempt to attack the Estonian ambassador there, and calls for the resignation of the Estonian government.

The internet attacks targeted Estonian government websites and those of political parties, banks, media organisations, and other companies. There have been three distinct waves over the past three weeks, the last of which appeared to be subsiding yesterday.

Estonian officials are determined to press the phenomenon on to Nato and EU agendas. Cyber-security is expected to be discussed at a meeting of Nato officials next month. Nato experts are also helping Estonia to investigate the attacks.

Hillar Aarelaid, the official in charge of trying to counter the attacks, said yesterday that most of the websites targeted were operating normally. As well as the volume of “malicious traffic” from Russia, analysts had also traced attackers to the US, Canada, Vietnam, Brazil and other countries, he said.

There have been several such “denial of service” attacks in recent years, in connection with the Iraq war, and during the cartoons crisis in Denmark two years ago. Nato websites were also targeted as long ago as 1999, during the war in Kosovo. But in scale and duration, the current campaign is believed to be the worst yet.

Another reader points out that the BBC is calling Russia a nation of “cyber pirates.” Either the Kremlin is launching these attacks, or it is doing nothing to stop them, or it’s powerless to stop them. Any way you look at it, the picture is a bleak one for the rule of law in Russia.

Estonia, one of the most internet-savvy states in the European Union, has been under sustained attack from hackers since the ethnic Russian riots sparked in late April by its removal of a Soviet war memorial from Tallinn city centre. Websites of the tiny Baltic state’s government, political parties, media and business community have had to shut down temporarily after being hit by denial-of-service attacks, which swamp them with external requests. Some sites were defaced to redirect users to images of Soviet soldiers and quotations from Martin Luther King about resisting “evil”. And hackers who hit the ruling Reform Party’s website at the height of the tension on 29 April left a spurious message that the Estonian prime minister and his government were asking forgiveness of Russians and promising to return the statue to its original site.

Getting hit hard

The government’s response has been to close down sites under attack to external internet servers while trying to keep them open to users inside Estonia, but the attacks are taking a toll and have been likened by the defence ministry to “terrorist activities”. “Of course [sites] can be put up again, but they can be attacked also again,” Mikhail Tammet, head of IT security at the Estonian defence ministry, told BBC World Service’s Newshour programme. Estonia, he said, depended largely on the internet because of the country’s “paperless government” and web-based banking. “If these services are made slower, we of course lose economically,” he added. While the government in Tallinn has not blamed the Russian authorities directly for the attacks, its foreign ministry has published a list of IP addresses “where the attacks were made from”. The alleged offenders include addresses in the Russian government and presidential administration.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s chief spokesman, told the BBC’s Russian Service there was “no way the [Russian] state [could] be involved in cyber terrorism”. “When you look at the IP addresses showing where the attacks are coming from, then there’s a wide selection of states from around the world,” he added. “But it does not mean that foreign governments are behind these attacks. Moreover, as you probably know, IP addresses can be fake.” Russia’s own presidential website, he said, came under attack itself “hundreds” of times daily.

‘Private attacks’

David Emm, senior technical consultant at Moscow-based antivirus software company Kaspersky Lab, believes the hackers are likely to be “younger types who, in other days, would have been writing and spreading viruses”. “I would not be surprised if switched-on people were using technical means of expressing themselves,” he told the BBC News website’s technology correspondent, Mark Ward. Anton Nossik, one of the pioneers of the Russian internet, sees no reason to believe in Russian state involvement in the hacking, beyond the fanning of anti-Estonian sentiment. “Unlike a nuclear or conventional military attack, you do not need a government for such attacks,” he told the BBC News website. “There were anti-Estonian sentiments, fuelled by Russian state propaganda, and the sentiments were voiced in articles, blogs, forums and the press, so it’s natural that hackers were part of the sentiment and acted accordingly.” Hackers, he points out, need very little money and can hire servers with high bandwidth in countries as diverse as the US and South Korea. The expertise is “basic”, he says, with virus scripts and source codes available online and there are “hundreds of thousands of groups who have the resources to launch a massive virus attack”. “The principle is very simple – you just send a shed load of requests simultaneously,” he says. Estonia’s blocking of external servers is in his opinion a smart response but can only work for a country of “1.4 million with a non-international language”. In Russia, for instance, foreign servers account for 60% of the net, he says. For Mr Nossik, of more concern is how the global net can protect itself against the big virus attacks like the Backbone Denial-of-Service attack in February which hit three key servers making up part of the internet’s backbone. “Compared to the scale of the problem in general, Estonia is small,” he says.

Annal of Russian Hypocrisy: Trade Sanctions against Estonia

When the issue is Iran or any nation Russia likes, trade sanctions are off the table, as are sanctions of any kind. Oh no, Russia screams, that’s uncivilized. We must discuss and negotiate. But as soon as the topic is any nation Russia doesn’t like those “principles” go right out the window. Then Russia resorts to sanctions at the drop of a hat. EU Business reports:

Although Russia denies it has slapped sanctions on Estonia after last month’s row over a Soviet war memorial, trade between the two neighbours has fallen sharply and the small Baltic EU member is beginning to feel the pinch. Freight shipped by rail from Russia through Estonia dropped by half in the first week of May, just days after a furious row erupted between Moscow and Tallinn over the removal of the Bronze Soldier statue. “On some days, the Port of Muuga near Tallinn did not have a single train from Russia. All the branch tracks were empty,” said Ago Tiiman, director of the Estonian Association of Port Operators. “Our suppliers in Russia, who have not sent shipments recently, cite repairs on the bridge at the border, repairs to the railway line, and umpteen other reasons,” he said. “But these are just excuses. This is really a show of force. Estonia is being used as a testing ground for Russia to experiment with measures it could inflict on the EU.”

The removal of the Bronze Soldier statue and riots, in which a Russian national was killed and several hundred mostly Russian people detained, plunged relations between Estonia and Moscow to their lowest level since the Baltic state regained independence 16 years ago. Russia has lashed out not only at Estonia but also at the EU and NATO for backing their member state in the row with Moscow. The week after the row broke over the Bronze Soldier monument, which Estonian officials moved from the centre of Tallinn and placed a few days later in a military cemetery, the Russian railway company announced it had to repair the line that carries freight into Estonia. Last week, state-run Russian Railways announced it was halting a new passenger service linking the western city of Saint Petersburg with the Estonian capital. While Russian Railways cited a shortage of passengers as its reason for halting the service, its Estonian partner, private company Go Rail, said demand for the trains had been “very high both among Estonian and Russian travel firms”. Russian authorities have also announced that heavy vehicles will be banned as of May 15 from crossing the bridge that straddles the Narva River separating Estonia and Russia. The reason? The bridge was in a poor state of repair and potentially dangerous, the Russians said.

Estonian Econony Minister Juhan Parts argued that the bridge was Estonian, and the Russian move was unnecessary and illegal. “The bridge belongs to Estonia, and a recent study shows the bridge can be used, although repairs will be needed in the future,” he said. “A unilateral decision like this one is just one example of how the Russians are applying hidden sanctions against Estonia — which are not so hidden, actually.” In the first week of May, the volume of Russian oil products shipped to Estonia declined by half, while coal and fertilizer shipments destined mainly for other markets in the EU were halted, according to the Estonian Transit Association. About 1,500 people will have to be sent on unpaid leave in mid-May, it said. The Estonian food industry has also been put on a forced diet. “Quite a few Estonian food companies are hearing all sorts of excuses from Russia about why their products are no longer wanted,” said Sirje Potisepp, director of the Estonian Association of Food Processing Industries. “Contracts are not being cancelled but products are simply not being taken.” In 2006 one-fourth of Estonian food exports went to Russia. Losing that market would result in large job cuts, Potisepp said.

Pro-Kremlin youth group Young Guard has been asking shopkeepers in Russia’s second largest city, Saint Petersburg, to pull Estonian goods from their shelves as part of a campaign against the Baltic state. “Fortunately, not all food stores have joined the campaign,” Potisepp said. “We hope the emotional outburst will fade soon.” Russia was Estonia’s fourth biggest market for exports and second biggest source of imported goods last year. Nearby Finland is Estonia’s biggest trading partner

Edward Lucas on the Estonia Embassy Protests

I am not just worried. I am cross.

First I am cross that the Russians think they can blockade any country’s embassy like this. I remember our vigil for Politkovskaya–it had to be across the street from the Russian embassy in London in order not to get on their nerves. Russia always insists on the most pedantic interpretation of the Vienna convention when its diplomats (and “embassy officials”) get caught drunk driving, shoplifting etc. But when they want to throw their weight around–against a country that has already suffered so hugely at their hands in the past–then they ignore all the rules and just go ahead.

I am cross at the Estonian government too. I asked Ansip when he was in London–a couple of months ago–”Are you really sure you want to do this? You have no diplomatic support abroad; it is incredibly divisive at home.” He blathered on about extremists, public order etc. I asked him “Can you name one politician in any other country who has come out in public support for moving the statue”. He couldn’t name one.

What makes me so angry is that these nitwits take Estonia’s hardwon reputation for granted, rather like the decadent children of first-generation immigrants do with their parents’ hard-earned fortunes. Do he and his colleagues have any idea how long it took to persuade people that Estonia was a proper country? That the language and citizenship laws were justified? That the economic boom was real (and not just “smuggling”)? That NATO and EU membership was justified? And because of all that credibility in the bank, he feels he can go and squander it, just to get a few extra votes for his ex-komsomoltsy.

I am cross with parts of the Estonian media for their casual treatment of another asset built up so painfully over 15 years: harmony between people of different backgrounds. The “honest” coverage, implying that the “Russians” have shown themselves in their true colours, as habitual looters and hooligans, is outrageous.

I am cross with Savisaar for exploiting the riots in one way, and cross with his opponents for trying to make him the scapegoat for the whole thing. I can see a danger that Estonia becomes another Poland, leading with its chin in fights it can’t win, alienating its friends and delighting Russia.

Should Ansip resign? Probably. I like the guy personally, but this is a disaster. What stays my hand is the feeling that if the bronze soldier hadn’t been the provocation, the Russians would have found another one. The way things are now with the Kremlin, it was only a matter of time before the storm broke.

I am cross with the the looters, of course. The Estonians have treated the Soviet-era migrants with incredible generosity, restraint and patience. What an outrageous way to behave! I am cross with the local Russian-language press, which as far as I have seen has failed to publish pictures of the looting. I am cross with the Russian elite in Estonia which has not condemned the riots.

I am cross that when there is so much going on that is really important, both in the region and the world, everyone is wasting so much time about what is in the end just a rather bad statue.

I am really, really, cross with the feeble response from the EU and NATO. Why the **** can’t the EU ambassadors come round to the Estonians and show some solidarity. I bet if you had 24 ambassadorial limos pushing their way through the crowd of Putin-jugend the police would take a bit more action. Why not call all 24 Russian ambassadors in the other EU capitals in to receive an identical protest? And do the same in the other G-7 countries. Talking of which, Russia’s membership of the G8 and Council of Europe should surely be on the line now.

With the exception of Estonia’s president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who has said and done all the right things, this is a story of grotesque self-indulgence, mixed with appalling moral cowardice.

Who will put Humpty-Dumpty together again?

Two pieces from this week’s Economist, with similar thoughts in a more measured form, will follow later today.

Annals of the Russian Dark Ages: Estonia in Context

Writing in the Moscow Times Konstantin Sonin, a professor at the New Economic School/CEFIR. puts the Estonian question into perspective:

When it comes to relatives who live far away, there is a tendency to remember them only on certain occasions, such as birthdays, weddings or funerals. These are the times when you feel ashamed of the fact that, for example, you haven’t visited them for over 10 years, even though you keep promising to do so. But sometimes just hearing about other relatives is enough to get us thinking about our own.

The recent events concerning the monument to Soviet soldiers in Estonia are just this kind of situation. The Estonian government clearly did not show its best side in deciding to move the monument: It doesn’t take a great deal of political courage to behave in strict accordance with the majority opinion. True political leadership also involves taking into consideration the minority view. The journalists who wrote of the “Russian monster” in an editorial published in one of Estonia’s most popular newspapers crossed all conceivable limits of journalistic etiquette and political correctness. It is not surprising that Russian politicians and intellectuals began contemplating an appropriate response.

But what type of response? It looks like they decided to turn to the tried, if not particularly true, approach of imposing economic blockades, sanctions and other measures forcing Russians to foot the bill for bringing economic pressure to bear on producers in another country. Essentially, Russia is once again looking at an asymmetrical response. Perhaps this time it would make sense to explore the option of a symmetrical response instead. If the Estonian government takes actions that offend Russian historical sensibilities, the Russian government shouldn’t have to show much concern for the historical sensibilities of the Estonians.

Maybe, for example, it would make sense to limit temporarily access to the memorial to the victims of the violent resettlement of the Baltic peoples. Russia could also reduce the funding for taking care of certain halls within the Museum of Political Repression. As a long-term measure, there could be the threat to exclude mention of these events from the list of crimes which Russian laws make it a crime to deny. These laws, after all, were based on similar laws in a number of European countries forbidding the denial of the Holocaust and requiring countries to list all peoples that suffered repression on the basis of ethnicity or faith.

These methods are universal geopolitical weapons. If, for instance, relations with Ukraine were to deteriorate any further, whoever Russia’s president might be at the time could skip the annual rite of laying flowers at the memorial to the victims of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian famine of 1932 and 1933. Even though this was a tragedy shared by Russians, the majority of those who died of hunger as a result of the collectivization and policies of the Communist leadership were Ukrainians, and so the memory of those events holds special meaning for them. Even the slightest lack of sensitivity toward that memorial would have a greater effect than an attempt to manipulate the flow of gas to Ukraine.

I wouldn’t favor any of these measures, so I suppose it’s a good thing that none of them could be implemented in Russia today. This is because we don’t actually have a memorial to the deportation of the Baltic peoples. Nor is there a fitting memorial to the famine victims of 1932 and 1933, although the famine was one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of the 20th century. No Russian president, therefore, has ever laid a wreath at such a memorial. Russian history textbooks do not mention that the collectivization campaign was a form of civil war –one of the deadliest, in fact — nor does the country have a Museum of Political Repression or laws forbidding the denial that this repression ever took place.

It is simply not possible to strike back at countries offending the historical sensibilities of Russians by going after monuments to the suffering of their peoples. Russia doesn’t have any.

Vedemosti on Estonia

A reader claiming to represent a group of Georgians wishing to express solidarity with their oppressed brethren in Estonia sends La Russophobe the logo (above) and the following manifesto:

  • The relocation of the statue of a Red Army occupier with respect to history is the internal business of Estonia and no other state can intervene to this with demand for the government to resign;
  • Russian press unmercifully perverts information about conflict in Estonia and is actively creating image of Baltic States as enemy of Russia;
  • Russia is engaged in chauvinistic and ultra-nationalistic hysteria against the free, democratic and European Estonia;
  • Russia has demonstrated intolerance for the freedom of its neighbours and used radical neo-nazi youth movement “nashi” to wage series of attacks on Estonian embassy and staff through provocations and aggression;
  • We fully support Estonian state and Estonian nation in their heroic stance against the emerging neo-imperialistic fascist state which present a greater threat for the security and stability in Europe and beyond.
  • Lithuania Latvia Georgia, European Union and all democratic states of the world should express their full support for Estonia in no uncertain terms because the same thing may happen to all of the countries which are involved with Russia.

Meanwhile, the Russian business daily Vedemosti, analagous to America’s Wall Street Journal, has the following to say about Russia’s failed policy in Estonia and increasing neo-Soviet isolation:

It is starting to look as if official Moscow, without hope of any discernable political benefit, is glad for any opportunity to argue with its neighbors. This chance to stand up to its neighbors may make it possible for officials to talk about the recovery of Russia’s place on the world stage, but the reality is that it’s position is worsening: Over the past few years, measure of attitudes toward Russia in the West have plunged into the negatives, and post-Soviet republics have been transformed into enemies. Ignoring the technical date for the break up of the Soviet Union, the real and final disintegration has come in the first decade of the 21st century. With each new conflict the former Soviet republics move further away from being abstract enemies for Russians and toward being real foreign policy opponents for the country.

The roots of the conflict with Estonia all lie in the past. Russia’s foreign policy looks like a holdover from the Soviet variety, and those responsible for making it live in a “cold” world, surrounded by enemies. Economic recovery and the strengthening of Russia’s position on the international arena have had the ironic effect of narrowing the world surrounding the country to the geographic borders of the state.

For Russia to hope to have more friends in a world that has broadened, and not narrowed, it needs an entirely different foreign policy that is oriented toward the future with an understanding of the past.

Besides its Soviet and imperial heritage, Russia has a multitude of cards to play that would allow it to act effectively on the international stage, including its location, the state of its economy and, perhaps most important, its great cultural tradition.

But to start living in the future, the past has to be transformed from a stumbling block to a common understanding. In order to chase away the ghosts of the past, you first have to reconcile yourself with them.

As long as Russians continue to turn a blind eye to parts of the history of Soviet repression — living peacefully with both Stalin’s national anthem and the two-headed eagle, with Lenin’s body on Red Square and Tsar Nicholas II canonized — the past will only continue to get in their way.

Essel on the Bronze Soldier

Bronze Soldier Revisited

by Dave Essel

Having started the other day to delve into the bilge that is published in the Russian press, I had the unfortunate urge to take another look at the government-controlled Russian press today and found to my misfortune that Galina Shaposhnikova, that disgrace to the word journalist, now promoted to the rank of “Our Special Correspondent,” is continuing to write her tendentious and inflammatory material on the Estonian issue in Komsomolskaya Pravda.

There is a certain sick fascination about the hypocritical and devious ways of such stooges and of course it is instructive to see how ordinary Russians are being manipulated.

So here’s shameful Galina’s follow-up to her previous article:

It’s The Quiet Before the Storm in Tallinn
(The Russians in Estonia are Preparing to Celebrate Victory Day With a Bang)
Komsomolskaya Pravda

It’s five to twelve. I set off with my taxi driver and we drive down Tallinn’s streets, neat and tidy as before except that some shop windows are boarded up instead of glazed. Tallinn is still licking its wounds: shop and bar owners who suffered during the “bronze revolution” that took place in Tallinn last week are not even thinking of reglazing. [Schadenfreude: licking its wounds]

“The 9th of May [VE day in Russia] is a few days away,” they sigh, “and it could all happen again.” [TN: Invented: who is this “they” -- she’s alone with a taxi driver.]

“Surely people have let off all the steam that was in them?” I ask my taxi driver.

“Good grief, no!” he laughs. “This is the quiet before the storm. Can’t you see that what we have is urban partisan war?” [TN: Lightly disguised inflammatory call.]

New Estonian Joke: Fine for Slow Driving

I don’t see but I hear that it’s midday because at twelve on the dot all the cars in Tallinn’s street suddenly slow down all together and start hotting! This demonstration was invented by Russian drivers since all other forms of protest were closed to them: meetings, as they had experienced, finished with police beatings and attempts to negotiate were rejected outright. So they had nothing left they could do except hoot. It’s am indescribable feeling to know that the person in the car next you happily hooting and waving carnations is with you on this… [TN: If our Galya’s a Russian national, shouldn’t the Estonian government be preparing to expel her for incitement to disturb the peace?]

But now what? There’s a man standing by the curb, his face distorted in a grimace of hate, hurling stones at the hooting cars! He scuttles off down a side street as soon as a couple of cars turn towards him… [TN: Galina clearly watches too many cartoons. How could two cars in slow-moving traffic lanes suddenly start driving up the curb. She’s invented this.]

Practical advice is published on the Estonian internet: when going out, take plenty of stones and nails with you to throw at the Russian vandals who for some reason don’t seem to like being second-class citizens. The police can’t handle the hooting city Ð there aren’t enough police cars in the whole of Tallinn to impose 200 euro fines on all those who are demanding the resignation of the prime minister in this way. And in any case, doesn’t it sound plain silly to say that in Estonia you can be fined for driving slowly! [TN: The Estonian internet is obviously some particularly obnoxious form of internet, eh Galya! And how about a URL?]

People Are Bringing Live Flowers to the Soldier

[TN: excuse the flippancy but a thinking writer might ask himself if a cut flower technically alive]

I observed an interesting scene yesterday three police cars blocked in a jeep from the windows of which the familiar sound of Eto Den Pobedy [Russian VE Day son] was blaring at full blast. Perhaps this was a hint as to what is yet to come about if ALL Russian minds in Estonia stick on a single wavelength: what else can we think up to revenge ourselves against the state for what it has down to what we hold dear? [TN: Behind the Soviet journo’s usual difficulty with writing comprehensible similes, there are some rather nasty and inflammatory insinuations trying to get out.]

Each of us uses his creative potential to the best of his ability and capacity — some are urgently taking their business out of Estonia, others are writing slogans on walls, yet others are recalling the words of war songs so that they can resound from every Russian window on 9 May, others still — drivers of cars with Estonian number plates — are putting large notices with names such as Vasya or Seryozha in the car windows to ensure that their cars are not damaged by enraged Russian patriots. [TN: I kid you not, this person is really writing this in a mass circulation "newspaper"!]

They Want to Spoil the Lives of the Relatives of the Fallen

I’d like to take this opportunity to add that these people [TN: which, Galya? Please try to write without non sequiturs as it makes things harder for translators] along with the diplomats from the Estonian Embassy in Moscow are absolutely not to blame for what the Estonian prime minister has done to the Bronze Soldier and to revenge oneself against them is stupid. Let others take their revenge — the relatives of those whom Ansip has personally insulted. At one time he claimed that the demonstrators on T’nismägi Green were trampling on graves but now the rest not just of 13 soldiers but of at least 1100 is to be disturbed. This is because the monument has been moved to a working military cemetery and Slavs [note the introduction of racist terminology] who, in a ritual learnt with their mothers’ milk, bring the Soldier flowers, now have to mill with all sorts of other relatives of people buried in the cemetery.

[TN: This is so badly written that it’s hard to see what is being got at: I think in fact that it’s a veiled threat to disturb or encourage disturbances of the peace at the Tallinn military cemetery. On the other hand, it may conscious or unconscious racism about Slavs having to mix with others races in the cemetery. In all likelihood, a bit of both.]

So now it won’t be possible, with other relatively fresh graves around, to sing the old songs like Byotsya v tesnoi pechurke ogon and immerse oneself in the atmosphere of joy and pride with which it is our custom to wake up on the 9th of May. Euro MP Tatyana Zhdanok, by the way, thinks that this is precisely what the Estonian authorities intended: what sort of conflicts can arise between between the majority and the minority? Not just on grounds of language or religion, but also from differing interpretations of history, as happened, for example, in Kosovo. [TN: What?] The Estonians want to purge Victory Day of its feeling of holiday and make it into a day solely for remembering the dead…

“It’s Important We Show We Are Not Afraid

Ribbons of St. George are worth their weight in gold in Estonia. Many people seeing the striped ribbon on my handbag begged me to cut even a little strip off for them. “It’s important we show that we’re not afraid of anyone!” I was told by the women who had come to a 1st May meeting banned by the authorities. You should see how people share these ribbons, giving pieces to each other and holding on to them tightly, like sweets… Incidentally, it’s dangerous to tie such a ribbon to one’s car — you can get your tyres slashed for that. Larisa Neshchadimova, one of the leading figures of the Night Watch group, has had her tyres let down several times. [TN: I have no adequate reaction to this saccharine bilge which reads like it was invented by a rather primitive brain.]

Yesterday I discovered that it’s dangerous to walk about in Estonia with a red flag. Minister of the Interior Yuri Pihl stated categorically: “No one is to walk about displaying the red flag this 9 May.” What will the Russians do then? Ransack their cupboards for something red and sadly comment: “Oh, what a shame, I’ve only got this red tennis racket cover.”

Jokes aside, yesterday the tent erected last week over the Bronze Soldier was at last removed from T’nismägi Green. All was clean and tidy — as if there had never been anything there, neither graves nor memorial. [TN: Galya must have been told in propaganda school that even serious matters must be leavened with a joke or two for the readers. The clumsiness of her joke achievement boggles the mind. But of course the whole article is a combination of viciously evil tendentiousness so awkwardly done that the whole thing is a pathetic joke.]

* * *

So let’s leave Galya in her swamp and click on Komsomolka’s links. I need to know what’s happening in the world, I need information guide me so that I can lead a decent life. Komsomolka regularly has some click-through ads to a journal called VZGLYAD – Delovaya Gazeta. Sound serious and obviously enjoys Komsomolka’s support. Galya’s articles about the Bronze Soldier have aroused my interest and VZGLYAD has more information. Let’s read.

Embassy Now Without Pickets or Ambassador
Youth Movement Activist Stop Picket of Estonian Embassy by Irina Romancheva
Vzglyad

Late Thursday evening, Russian youth movement activists, who for the last 6 days had been picketing the Estonian Embassy, went home. A few hours previously, Marina Karlyurand, the Baltic republic’s representative had “fled” the consulate. It seemed pointless for the young patriots to besiege an empty building. As a parting gesture, the lads hurled a portrait of Karlyurand into the air and laid flowers before a photograph of the Bronze Soldier before handing over the task of battling against Estonia’s abuse of power to the Russian leadership.

The siege of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow had been carried out from two sides. The “Young Guards” and “Mestnye” had held the fort round the clock on Maly Kislovsky Lane while “Nashi” and “Rosomols” did the same in Kalashny Lane.

“The ambassador has run from our beloved city with her tail between her legs. Civil society as represented by its youth organisations has completed its mission.” Both hastily erected wooden fences behind which with Baltic republic’s consular employees tried to shelter from the young people’s anger had been turned into walls of shame.

On their bit of fence “Nashi” collected signatures in support of 11th class schoolgirl Marka Siryka who was arrested by the Estonian police. The “Young Guards” put up an enormous poster depicting the Warrior-Liberator besides which stood a stern-faced guard holding the movement’s white flag stood day and night under a small sheet-metal shelter. Late Thursday the activists decided to stop the siege, which had gone on for six days and nights, and go home.

Just a few hours earlier, Marina Kalyurand, the Baltic republic’s representative in Moscow had left the consulate for the airport, having failed to answer a single question put to her by the young patriots and without even saying good-bye. The members of the youth movements felt it would be rather pointless to picket the empty building.

“The ambassador has run from our beloved city with her tail between her legs. Civil society as represented by its youth organisations has completed its mission. The young have shown they they will defend the history written by their grandfathers. We support all and any adequate measures with regards to Estonia.” Alexei Shaposhnikov, leader of the Moscow branch of “Young Guard”, told this newspaper.

The young activists decided to depart from the embassy in style. At 20:45, they gathered in a semicircle by the poster depicting the Bronze Soldier. In their hands, the lads held the banners of “Mestnye” and of the “Young Guards” and also paper planes of impressive size made out of sheets of A4 paper with the words “Estonia, you will regret what you have done” written on their wings.

Candles were already burning at the foot of the photographic monument. Also fling down there was a stylised EU flag, the circle on its blue background formed not of stars but of little yellow swastikas. “This today is the symbol not of the independent states of Europe but of the neo-Nazi states raising there heads there., explained Karen Oganyan, an activist of the metropolitan branch of the “Young Guards”. According to him, Estonia’s prime minister has demonstrated that the Cold War is ongoing. And the USA and several European countries are actively applying a policy of dual standards, condemning fascism in general terms but ignoring the neo-Nazi attitudes of one country in particular. We cannot allow displays of fascism!”, he summed up.

“United we unbeatable!” his comrades-in-arms chanted. Next one of the “Mestnye” activists read a poem about “black bulldozers” that perfectly suited the situation over the dismantling of the Bronze Soldier. The reading was heard out in complete silence and applauded at the end.

“We are united by the memories of our great-grandfather and by pride in them.” Thus Sergei Fateyev, leader of “Mestnye”, expressed the general mood. Due honours were shown to the feat of Soviet soldiers by laying red carnations at the foot of the picture of the Warrior-Liberator.

“Marina Kalyurand ran away today,” Fateyev suddenly reminded. “And she’ll run away again right now”, promised the leader of the White-and-Greens, taking from one of his comrades a “bouquet” of white balloons printed with the movement’s logo. A picture of Marina Kalyurand with the words “Wanted! Ambassador of Fascist State” was tied to the bunch and to cheerful catcalls let loose into the sky.

No use had yet been made of the paper planes. Without hesitation, the young patriots hurled them over the fence round the Estonian embassy. They all hit their target.

“And a farewell bow to you!” Alexei Shaposhnikov concluded the demonstration, proving by his actions, along with Sergei Fateyev, that this was not just a figure of speech. “Fascism will no pass!, chanted the activists at the sight of their bowing leaders.

Incidentally, the “Young Guards” have no intention of stopping their expression of disgust at the Estonian authorities. Nadezhda Orlova, chairman of the political council of the Young Guards told Vzglyad that on the night of 8th-9th May, her comrades-in-arms will hold an all-Russian demonstration against the stance of the Baltic republic’s leadership. Every Russian is invited to take part. On 8th May, everyone is invited to turn the lights off in their flats for 5 minutes and to light a candle. The little petal of flame can be put in the window or taken out into the street. Should you be at the wheel of car at that time, the Young Guards suggest that the driver turn on the emergency flashers instead.

Tomorrow 40 Young Guards and activists of the 17th Wagon movement will begin distribution to Muscovites candles and leaflets with instructions which can be glued on in the entrance ways to blocks of flats. The Young Guards also intend to carry organise similar activities in the regions.

The Young Guards invite people to fight neo-fascist tendencies not just with words but with deeds. In the opinion of Alexandr Shaposhnikov, Russia should enact a law making revisionism of the Second World War a criminal offence. “This would make it possible to prosecute individuals guilty of the crime in Russian courts, irrespective of their place of residence, citizenship or rank. A second step would be to get the law recognised internationally,” said Alexei Shaposhnikov to VZGLYAD.

* * *

Of course, VZGLYAD does not write only about Estonia. Look here’s something about Poland and a catchy headline too:

Poles Poison the Air
Ammonia Leak and the Mikoyan Meat-Processing
Plant Was Caused by Polish Delivery Truck

Vzglyad

In the night of Wednesday to Thursday, a leak of 100 kilos of ammonia happened at the Mikoyan Meat-Processing Plant. To blame was a Polish delivery which cornered wrongly when driving into the plant and struck a pipe.

[...]

Oh, I’ve had enough of this rubbish and we can all see where this non-story is going. I think the important point is quite how madly immoral Russia is as a country, something not immediately evident without a little digging into material available only in Russian. This needs to be brought to light because I think many in the West fool themselves and have no idea of quite how NASTY Russia is today.

Annals of Cold War in Estonia: Nashi Unsheaths its Fangs

If anyone had any doubts about whether a new Cold War is raging between Russia and the West, Radio Free Europe puts them to rest:

The dispute over the removal of a war memorial in Tallinn has become a dirty war. Hacking, violent protests, intimidation of diplomats, all with the hand — or at least the blessing — of the Kremlin. Estonia has suggested that the Kremlin and its security services were behind the two days of violent protests by local Russian youths in Estonia. At a press conference in Moscow on May 2, Estonian Ambassador to Russia Marina Kaljurand said that she believed that both protests in Tallinn and Moscow were directed by the Kremlin.


Official Russian Disruptions

If it wasn’t behind the protests, the Kremlin certainly wasn’t a calming factor. On April 30, a delegation from Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, visited Tallinn to investigate the events around the removal of the Bronze Soldier memorial. The delegation was headed by Nikolai Kovalyov, the former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and currently the head of the Duma Veterans Affairs Committee. While in Tallinn, Kovalyov called for the immediate resignation of the Estonian government. Many Estonians protested the statement as an intervention in their internal affairs. In the last few days, several Estonian government websites went down, including the sites of the Estonian president, parliament, cabinet ministers, and the Foreign and Defense ministries.

The website of Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, who many consider to be behind the removal of the Bronze Soldier, was also hacked. Another case of directed physical and psychological pressure was when Georgians were expelled from Russia in October 2006 after relations deteriorated between Moscow and Tbilisi following a spy scandal. Russian police raided Georgian businesses, and rounded up and deported many Georgian citizens, who were working illegally in Russia. There have been suggestions from many Russian politicians and commentators that the Kremlin take matters further. The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, on April 29 voted to break diplomatic relations with Tallinn.

Other Russian politicians have proposed economic sanctions, a transport blockade, a tourism boycott of Estonia, and banning those Estonian officials responsible from the removal of the memorial from entering Russia. Speaking on RTR on May 3, Sergei Lopatnikov, a visiting professor at the University of Delaware, suggested adopting a law that would prosecute “people revising the results of World War II, regardless of their diplomatic status and territorial jurisdiction.” His comments were carried by most state-controlled television and radio stations.

Moscow’s Weapons Limited

However, the Kremlin knows its limits. Breaking off ties with Estonia is unlikely to be popular with the government and the public, as it would have negative consequences for the ethnic Russian community in Estonia, which makes up around one-third of the population. Moreover, trade between the two countries is worth less than $300 million. Estonia, especially with European Union backing, could easily find other partners in the case of economic sanctions. It is also possible that the Kremlin will soften its campaign against Estonia, fearing that further pressure would consolidate the West against Russia.

In fact, already the United States, NATO, EU, the Scandinavian countries, and the Baltic states have all backed Estonia. Only China, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have expressed their official support for Russia. And the “monument war” has already soured relations between Russia and the EU. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has urged the EU to boycott the EU-Russia summit to be held in May in Kaluga, in central Russia. The European Union has also called on Russia to guarantee the safety of Estonian diplomats on its territory. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the crisis with Estonia will have a negative effect on Russia’s relations with NATO and the EU because “they accepted Estonia as a member of their organization, and, therefore, are responsible for its behavior.”

Away from the political drama, the real losers in this crisis are likely be Estonia’s ethnic Russians, who have become further ostracized in their own country. Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has said that all the good work done by the Estonian government, with the help of the EU, for the Russian ethnic minority has now been ruined. Or as Vladimir Belozeartsev, a Tallinn University professor, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service, “As Moscow and Tallinn settle accounts with each other, the [ethnic] Russian Estonians have found themselves caught between two fires.” Estonian Justice Minister Rejn Lang said on April 30 that the Internet-protocol addresses show that the attack was carried out from Moscow state institutions. “The aim of the attack was to paralyze the republic’s information infrastructure. That proves that some forces in Moscow have completely lost their prudence,” Lang said.

Youth Group Provocations

If the Russian state wasn’t responsible, it could have been Nashi, a pro-Kremlin youth group. Konstantin Goloskov, a Nashi activist, told the Rosbalt news agency on May 2 that he personally took part in cyber-attacks on Estonian websites. But he denied that Moscow state offices were used. The hacking, he said, was done from the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniester.

Estonian websites weren’t the only ones targeted. The Russian daily “Kommersant” and the Ekho Moskvy radio station, which were critical of the Kremlin for its handling of the situation, also had their websites hacked. Nashi isn’t just operating in cyberspace. Since April 27, around 600 members of Nashi and a number of other pro-Kremlin youth groups organized a protest outside the Estonian Embassy in Moscow. On May 2, the group’s activists disrupted a press conference held by Estonian Ambassador Kaljurand. They also attacked the car of a Swedish diplomat in which they suspected Kaljurand was hiding.

These aren’t just the spontaneous actions of young, radicalized young people. Nashi, along with other national-patriotic organizations, enjoys almost open political and financial support from the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin, deputy presidential-administration head Vladislav Surkov, and First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov have already met several times with these organizations’ activists.

Politics By Other Means

Such seemingly state-sponsored actions have some precedents — albeit circumstantial. In summer 2005, Polish citizens, including diplomats and journalists, in Moscow were harassed by “unknown attackers.” The attacks followed an attack in Warsaw on the family of a Russian diplomat, and Moscow expressed its displeasure at the way the Polish investigation proceeded. But when Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski called on Putin to stop the attacks, the assaults on Poles in Moscow abruptly ended.

The Sunday Sermon: Stand up for Estonia!

Russian policy is failing miserably in Estonia. On Friday, the U.S. Senate adopted a formal resolution supporting Estonia and condemning Russia in the dispute over the Soviet army memorial. An editorial in Investors Business Daily, which routinely puts out excellent commentary on Russian affairs, advises that the time has come for the West to show its true colors:

Time To Stand Up For Estonia

Russian brutality against tiny Estonia over the removal of a Soviet memorial is a brazen challenge to the West and nations that want to become part of it. A response is in order.Since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia has had many disputes with its 14 former republics. Its reputation is that of a bully, but occasionally the blame goes two ways. That’s not the case, however, with its effort to intimidate Estonia this week in clear-cut acts of aggression. A string of events calls for a strong, unified response because this is not as small a case as it looks.

Last Thursday, Estonia’s leaders decided to move an imposing Soviet war memorial from a dominant spot in Estonia’s capital of Tallinn. Russian officials denounced the removal of the ugly Stalinist relic as “sacrilegious.” The memorial was put there by Soviet troops who invaded and annexed Estonia as part of Josef Stalin’s and Adolf Hitler’s secret 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact to divide up Europe. Estonia’s forced incorporation into the Soviet Union cost it five decades of freedom until it finally broke free in 1991. Given the Soviet efforts to erase it as a nation in that dark era, it’s a miracle Estonia survived at all.

Estonia’s leaders haven’t said so explicitly, but getting rid of the 1947 Stalinist eyesore was an important move toward acknowledging their nation’s hard-won freedom. Maybe that’s why the symbolic act of removing the memorial touched a nerve in Russia, which has never confronted the savagery of its communist past. Still, Russia’s response was disproportionate to any normal diplomatic disagreement. Estonia’s president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, pleaded with Russia to “remain civilized.”

Russia said it was only standing up for the many Russians who still consider their nation to be Estonia’s “liberator” from Hitler. But on a deeper level, Russians resent Estonia’s exit from the Soviet Union and its success afterward. Hence, the harsh — and illegitimate — chain of responses.

First, local Russian mobs — Estonia-based remnants of the Soviet colonizers — rampaged through the capital, looting and vandalizing shops. To Estonians who remember 1947, it no doubt evoked the pillage of Soviet troops.

But instead of the Red Army, these punks now belong to an ultranationalist mob called “Nashi,” meaning “Ours” in Russian. Besides stealing, they intended to intimidate. About 600 looters were arrested, with 44 injured and one dead in Estonia’s worst violence since ’91. The mobs’ message was clear enough, but it’s hard to prove they’re acting on orders from Moscow. It’s worth noting, however, Russian officials have loudly criticized not the looting but Estonia’s police response.

What can be more directly traced to Moscow is that Russia’s upper house of parliament, or Duma, voted by a wide margin to break relations with Estonia in a nonbinding move. The message got clearer when Sweden’s envoy to Moscow was harassed by Nashi thugs who surrounded the Estonian embassy on Tuesday. After that, Russia stepped up pressure on Estonia by cutting off energy shipments for rail “maintenance.” This revived doubts about Russia’s reliability as a nonpolitical energy supplier to the West.

Crazier still, Estonian officials say Russian computer experts are hacking into and shutting down Estonian government Web sites in a bid to paralyze its operations. The hackers are traceable to the Kremlin, the officials say. While it’s hard to determine the author of all this harassment, there’s little doubt these are escalating acts of warfare against one of Europe’s most upright members. Estonia is the greatest success story of the post-Soviet era.

That’s what makes this important. Estonia picked itself up from the gray rubble of Soviet colonization in 1991 and transformed itself into a first-world state with a true national identity. Its success is a standing rebuke to the backwardness of what Russia remains and what other oppressed nations can become if they are left alone.

Other countries in Eastern Europe are still trying to dig out from the legacy of the Soviet past. Estonia’s clean governance, low taxes, steadily growing economy, soaring foreign investment and 4% unemployment are an amazing and atypical transformation in just a decade and a half.

So far, the European Union and U.S. have issued fairly strong statements condemning Russia’s efforts to intimidate Estonia’s democracy. They need to keep up the pressure. At stake is whether a nation emerging from tyranny has any right to success and to determining its own course.

For more on the same theme from philosopher Andre Glucksman, click here.