Looks like the Estonian government is moving ahead with plans to relocate the monument to Soviet soldiers in central Tallinn. The riigikogu approved the measure and President Ilves signed the bill into law. Now all is left is for Andrus Ansip's Reform Party to ride the common dislike for the buffoons at left to another term in office. I wonder how they will magically get rid of Härra Pronkssõdur without turning Tõnismägi into Lihula on steroids. The prospect of such a removal is giving me more anxiety than the Elian Gonzalez case.
Who's responsible for this crap? Everybody. You can lay the blame at just about anyone's feet. First of all, if Josef Stalin's Red Army marched into Tallinn, recognized Uluots government, and marched out after the Germans surrendered in 1945, then we wouldn't be talking about this. Every Russian person that finds themselves the victim of Russophobia and Western mistrust today owes a great deal of their position to Mr. Djugashvili. His government killed millions, and yet very few of the war criminals in it were ever held accountable for their crimes. And so, 60 years after it was erected, some Estonians find accountability in an old bronze statue.
Secondly, the Russian Federation's inability to take accountability for what happened in 1940 and 1944 and to continue to attempt to represent its "compatriots" abroad while at the same time demanding blanket foreign citizenship for them, only fuels the Estonian-Russian crisis in relations. When you constantly deny acts of hostility against a neighbor, and then attempt to include yourself in your neighbor's domestic policies on behalf of a local minority, you only sew fear and mistrust in your neighbor's country. Hence, an old war memorial still means something. Also, how can Estonians be expected to respect the dead of the Soviet Army, when the Russian government won't even hand back its morbid souvenir from Päts' death - his presidential regalia?
From a third perspective, this is also the fault of the ethnic Russian residents of Tallinn. How naive could you be to think you could annually gather and wave the flag of a country that killed so many of your neighbors' family members and think that something like this wasn't bound to happen? If you unveil the Red flag of the Red Army in Tallinn it's just going to piss people off. That's a fact for all Eastern European countries. And if young people gather with candles to defend a monument to a soldier that many in the capital see as an occupying soldier, then they too are mistrusted, and the rationale behind removing the statue becomes stronger, NOT weaker. By arguing that the removal of the statue would spark "a cold civil war," as activist Maxim Reva put it, you only reinforce the majority's lack of respect for your views and mistrust of your motives.
But there's plenty of fault on the Estonian side. For Andrus Ansip, I must ask, why do a few summer clashes between small groups of people merit the attention of the Estonian parliament, its president, as well as the Russian Federation and now PACE? Haven't you also contributed in blowing this matter out of proportion? Is Estonia really a country that can't tolerate disagreements like this? Hasn't democracy failed just a little here? Many posters have suggested that the current government's "do nothing" policies have helped the economy. Could not the same brilliant strategy work in these "culture war" issues as well?
And finally, I'll have to throw some responsibility at former President Arnold Rüütel, who could have stepped in at some opportune moment last June and pulled the whole country out of this situation with some grandfatherly advice and the moderate resolve that any man learns as he ages. I honestly believe that most Estonians, while feeling negative about the memorial, are not 100 percent behind Ansip's decision. Perhaps he could have come up with a heartfelt statement that set people back at ease. But he didn't. Instead Rüütel hid and passed the buck to his successor. And where is meie Toomas Hendrik Ilves? He was the one who told us he believed that the memorial should be imbued with more meaning, to represent everything the Red Army stood for, including the March 1944 bombing raids on Tallinn that killed hundreds of civilians. That seemed like the moderate solution. Sergei Ivanov from the Reform Party got his butt behind that position mighty quick. And Edgar Savisaar supported it too. So what happened? Who dropped the ball?
Finally, this dilemma is my fault for not coming up with a solution so grand that all of the other options would appear frivolous. I have failed you as a blogger. I'm sorry.