Month: April 2007

Russian Duma delegation visits Tallinn

From the Estonian foreign ministry:

30 April 2007

Foreign Ministry shocked by the behaviour of the Russian Duma delegation

The Foreign Ministry expresses surprise over the behaviour of the Russian Duma delegation. The Estonian side put together a comprehensive programme, which allowed the visiting delegation to thoroughly familiarise itself with topics of interest to them. The Russian delegation refused to participate in the programme that was approved by the head of the delegation, Leonid Slutski, the Vice-President of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs committee. The members of the Duma did not participate in planned meetings at the Foreign Ministry, where the planned discussion was to cover questions related to the negotiations on the Estonia-Russia war graves agreement.

Upon arrival, the members of the Duma began making unrealistic demands, such as demanding a meeting with arrested Estonian citizen Dmitri Linter.

In addition, the State Duma delegation refused to participate in a joint press conference with Riigikogu Vice-Chairman Kristiina Ojuland and Chairman of the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee Sven Mikser, where members of the diplomatic corps were invited to attend. The refusal to participate was explained by a demand to organise a press conference for the press behind closed doors in the Russian Embassy. This demand was based on the absurd assertion that all journalists would not have access to the press conference that was to be held in the Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry apologises for any inconveniences created by the Russian delegation for those journalists and representatives of the diplomatic corps who had come to attend the press conference.

The Foreign Ministry affirms that Estonia is always prepared and open to all contacts. However, it cannot agree with absurd statements and unreasonable demands.


6 377 654

50 94 645

The Statue – IV

From the Estonian foreign ministry website

29 April 2007

Foreign Ministry website once again accessible to all

The Foreign Ministry apologises for any inconveniences caused by the lack of accessibility to the Foreign Ministry website from abroad. The website problems were caused by malevolent attacks from the East (artificially high number of inquiries sent in an organised manner). To protect the site, the Foreign Ministry was forced to block access to the website from abroad. Now the problem is under control and the website is once again accessible to all.

The Statue – III

Estonian defence minister Jaak Aaviksoo and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet have announced at a press conference that the Bronze Soldier statue will tomorrow be moved from its present site at Tõnismägi to Tallinn’s military cemetery, and will be open to the public there on May 8.

Reuters has a report here.

The Statue – II

From the Estonian government press office:

29 April 2007

Bronze Soldier will be relocated to the Military Cemetary in central Tallinn

The Estonian Government will begin preparatory works today, Sunday, 29 April, at the military cemetary in central Tallinn to relocate the grave marker (Bronze Soldier).

Dear editors and journalists!

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo will give a joint press conference on Sunday, 29 April at 11:00 in the Press Centre of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


All journalists, photographers and TV cameramen should apply for accreditation from the MFA Press Centre by e-mail: (first and surname, news organization, number of passport/ID-card) . The final deadline for accreditation is Sunday, 29 April, 1000.

Please arrive no later than 1045 at the Visitor’s Entrance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Lauteri 2). Please have passports or personal identification cards with you.

+ 372 6377 654
+ 372 50 94 645

Estonia: the Sudetenland comparison

In a well-researched and thoughtful comparative study (pdf) of the issues surrounding the Russian minority in Estonia and Czech-Sudeten German relations between the two world wars, Tartu historian Reigo Lokk has drawn attention to disturbing similarities between the Sudeten crisis which developed when Hitler became German Chancellor in 1933 and the present situation in Estonia, which has developed to a critical point since Putin became Russia’s President in 2000. Although it was written before the current unrest over the relocation of the Bronze Soldier statue, the essay contains many perceptions that may help towards an understanding of what is now taking place:

For Russophones living in Estonia, the new situation signified an identity crisis (identification difficulties or fragmented identities) which spelled out the need to redefine their personal and collective identities. Primarily, it brought great difficulties in trying to unite two realities – Russian cultural identity and Estonian political identity. The results of surveys indicate that at least one-third of the Russians have adopted a different understanding of their ethnic or cultural belonging and homeland in connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Czech Germans once were, the present Russian-speaking community in Estonia is, in fact, already highly differentiated by their ethnic origin, citizenship status,
future aims, social capital, and cultural and political allegiances. For example, Melvin writes that Russian speakers “still face fundamental questions about whether their identity is primarily Baltic, Slavic, Russian or Russian-speaking”. The degree to which the post-Soviet Russian minority will be integrated into their new homeland is intimately linked to the question of what kind of collective identity it will develop. Different researchers have pointed out the weakening of a formerly widespread sense of Soviet identity, and the strengthening of a regional identity which is bound to the territory of Estonia. The level of identification with the country of Estonia and its culture is still relatively low. Instead, the majority of Russians identify themselves culturally and emotionally with Russia. A very vivid example of this is the fact that about 100,000 permanent inhabitants of Estonia of Russian origin have taken Russian citizenship; in addition, the number of people with no citizenship in Estonia is still over 165,000. Therefore, it can be said that the Russian minority seems to display a postmodern identity policy of multiple loyalties but one which lacks a clear pattern.

Lokk points to four critical factors that are likely to influence the outcome of the crisis on the domestic situation in Estonia and the other Baltic states, and their national security:

the activity and attitude of the state authorities and titular nations
the foreign policy of the Russian Federation
the behaviour of the Russian minority itself
the international climate