Does Estonian Independence Need a Scapegoat?

At the end of February former Soviet republic of Estonia traditionally celebrates the anniversary of the republic’s formation. We would like to mention that it was on February 24, 1920 when a so-called Tartu treaty was signed. Russia is trying to ignore the date. We can only guess that this is because of Russia’s imperial understanding of geopolitics where Estonia was never treated a real participant of the international process. So far none of serious Russian politicians has taken the liberty to voice this categorical imperative, nevertheless, relations between Russia and Estonia are still tense. Several reasons can be mentioned in this connection. Among them, stubborn reluctance of official Tallinn to pay attention to problems of so-called national minorities (we certainly mean Russians living in Estonia). At the same time, Tallinn’s striving for the European Union and for incorporation into NATO.

But still, Estonia’s Independence Day is one more reason to think about the present-day condition of our Baltic neighbor. Independent journalist Ville Son touches upon the problem.

The time of struggle for freedom came for Estonia in 1939, when the Soviet Union actually started threatening independence of the independent republic. In that situation the republic should have followed the example of Finland that gathered all powers to repulse aggressor’s pressure during the Winter War, but Estonia surrendered without resistance. The republic ceased to exist on the initiative of then-president Konstantin Pats. In accordance with the Constitution, the president of Estonia signed documents that transferred power in the hands of the Communist Party. That was done against the background of a secretly formed public opinion that Estonians didn’t actually need independence and that they desired to join the Soviet Union. Stalin highly estimated the parricide: Pats and his family were moved to Ufa in a first class railway car and the former president was granted a lifelong pension at the rate of 2.000 rubles per month. As soon as the Soviet power “won”, traditional cleansing was started. Traditionally, “bourgeois nationalists” were treated not considerately: they were either shot by Soviet security agents, or sent in exile to Siberia.

When a thing is done, advice is not too late

The Liberation War of 1918-1920 is the greatest relic in the minds of Estonian people. That is the reason why some of the present-day politicians (M.Laar, E.Tarto, etc) skillfully manipulate this fact and demand revenge. However, this is an impossible anachronism because Estonia has already finished fighting its lamentable wars. It seems to be a miserable tragicomedy where a group of political actors is trying to get a compensation for the damages caused by the Soviet occupation and colonization. And this is despite the fact that the deal between Pats and Stalin was absolutely legal. The Soviet Union ceased to exist because of the events in August 1991. And Estonians must be thankful to Russia for the breakup of the USSR, otherwise they would have never regained independence. However, if we consider statements of several Estonian politicians, it may seem that they made for the breakup of the USSR. And to confirm this fact, they as usually direct their anger toward Russian-speaking population of Estonia. This is a frequent and convenient case when people and the situation are mixed up. Former military men and employees of other law enforcement institutions suffer most of all in these situations. It is highly unlikely that these people pose a real danger to the nation, but this is a nice opportunity for Estonia’s special services to justify the zeal in their still fruitless searches for at least one Russian agent.


Eleven years ago Estonian parliament adopted a law in accordance with which parliamentarians were to swear that they were never employed by foreign intelligence services. But this legislation is still not guarantee with anything, as no sanctions are applied for violation of the law, violators are just publicly reprimanded. And this is at the time that in 1992 parliamentarians failed to estimate actions of the Soviet Communist Party. They were capable to do so only in 2002, and once again that was done in a declarative form and no guarantees were provided. It is paradoxical, but now, in ten years, former KGB officers have a right to run for elections; but on the other hand, the KGB and the Soviet Communist Party are outlawed. Isn’t it paradoxical? Unfortunately, such are the results of political populism.


Majority of Estonian politicians think that now main objective of the republic is to get incorporated into NATO and the European Union. At the same time, many of them ignore the fact that present-day legislation of the Estonian republic contradicts to all 15 items of the anti-discrimination clause in the Charter of the European Community. For example, former officers of the Soviet Army and the KGB, who like all other citizens of Estonia regularly paid social taxes, are now not granted pensions in the country. They are supposed to get officer pensions from Russia. Consequently, this means that retired general Einseln, who is paid an officer pension from the USA, mustn’t be paid pension in Estonia as well. Especially pressing problems for former military men, such as citizenship, a residential permit, the right to live together with the family, are still unsolved in Estonia. Such people cannot run for elections, they cannot be appointed to some governmental posts, such people are not allowed to handle hunting or sports weapons, they don’t get social and legal support; such people have no right to be at head of non-governmental organizations, to have real estate, etc. Only for the possibility to live in Estonia (not for Estonian citizenship) former Soviet KGB employees must pay 3.000 Estonian crowns per year and have to confirm this right every year. How did the situation change as compared with 1940 when the Soviet power introduced the Soviet Criminal Code in Estonia, including the ill-fated 58th clause? In accordance with the clause, practically all officials of the Estonian Republic were subjected to repression. A similar situation can be observed now when people who occupied governmental posts in Soviet Estonia are subject to repression. And the fact that the people held those position is their only fault. They are called occupants. If this is not stalinism, then what is it?

Political ignorance

Today Estonians cannot perform the role of a strong, civilized and clever European nation still acting as a victim. At that, they are painfully trying to take revenge for the insults they suffered. But upon whom do they revenge? History made it so that Estonians have to join larger nations. Pats gave the republic to Stalin, and present-day politicians of Estonia are selling it to NATO and to the European Union. Probably they have forgotten than western countries sold the Baltic countries even after the war. And the price of the deal was miserable.

Today’s discrimination only intensifies the feeling of despair among Russian youth living on the territory of Estonia. However, in 1990-1992 Russians living in Estonia generously supported Estonia’s independence, they liked the ideal of freedom. But the present-day situation of Russians in the Baltic country makes thousands of people treat the present regime inimically. Now ethnic Russians are blamed for political ignorance and inactivity, but those who accuse Russians are themselves deprived of power, courage and generosity. Such actions don’t become them!

Ville Son Tartu Estonia

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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