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Events in Estonia have internal reasons, they are not related to Russia and took several years of campaigning and passing laws that allow government to interfere into what is essentially a local, city level, issue. Russia does not offer any meaningful support to Russians abroad, and Russian politicians rhetoric is on the memorial is just that - rhetoric for domestic consumption. Estonia is one of offshores for the Russian elite, there are common business interests, so government there has a free pass from Russia.

Issue here is with Russian (and Soviet) minority in Estonia (used to be 30% of population) and attempt by the government to once again show them the proper place in the country and remind the electorate who the real enemy (naturally, Estonia's own residents) is in the light of the coming economic troubles. But looks like government miscalculated the reaction of the Russians - I don't think they really expected several days of disorder, that borders will have to be closed (happened today) and that hangars will have to be filled with the arrested.

Russians in Estonia do not have citizenship rights, and discrimination increased in the last few years due to more nationalistic government. Russians have higher unemployment, less paying jobs, are under represented in management and government jobs. Problem is with Estonian "integration" policy: Russians ought to speak, think and live like Estonians. "Integration" means full assimilation and still monoethnic job places are quite common. Jobs are conditioned by government Estonian language exams, which were becoming more and more strict. Requirements include writing business papers and essays. Recent amendments to the language law allow language commission to re-examine a person while the whole exam process is universally considered arbitrary.

Government and media prop fake "pro-Russian" parties and only "model Russians" (slightly to the right of the government) are allowed mainstream media time. Another issue is schools: teachers in Russian schools are being
replaced by native speakers and number of subjects in Estonian are increased. Government program for those schools by design does not give correct or enough Russian and after high school the education level is
not enough for the college.

Russians do not have political voice, government actively arrests, intimidates, deports or uses language commissions to fire from jobs possible troublemakers.

What Russians in Estonia are saying is that there are preciously few cultural places at this point they were allowed to keep, including only one theater. Destroyed monument and tradition to go there on VE Day was exactly one of those places, thus the reaction.

So what it is a movement against oppression. Problem is, it's leaderless resistance and that government is not ready to view the conflict in political terms.

by blackhawk on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 11:42:38 PM EST
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