teisipäev, veebruar 06, 2007

Ilves: Cut the Bronze Soldier BS

I have a feeling that somebody with international connections has been hearing it from his friends. Ilves was probably not pleased that Härra Pronks wound up in the front half of the New York Times a few weeks ago. So, in his Tartu Rahu speech, he took a few swipes at PM Andrus Ansip and the move to dump the monument in a cemetery somewhere on the outskirts of town.

President Ilves emphasized that investigating history and understanding the past is much more important and painstaking work than fighting with monuments and he said it is iniquitous, when Estonia’s politicians give into to the temptation to garner additional votes and use history as a club rather than a textbook.

“Unfortunately, we have seen this happening since last spring. Now we are arriving at a situation where Estonia itself is distributing the bullets for our critics to fire at us,” said the Head of State. “In a situation, where many of the young people living in Estonia do no consider the Soviet Union to be an occupier but a liberator, our society is faced with a serious problem. The problem will not be solved simply by removing the Bronze Soldier, or leaving it in place.”


In Ilves' opinion, what Estonia needs is a really accurate history book and a Freedom Monument. You can read more of his thoughts here, and add yours below.

20 kommentaari:

ants ütles ...

Dare enclose an article of Wash. T.
Attitude of the western countries to present Russia are resembling theirs of 1938 to Germany.
By the way - Your blog,s super!

Russia's press perils
By Arnold Beichman
February 6, 2007
"When it comes to press freedom, Russia is now ranked below countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan."
That's the finding of Michael Specter, the New Yorker magazine's Moscow correspondent. The sinister subtitle of his Jan. 29 letter from Moscow reads: "Why are Vladimir Putin's opponents dying?" And when you finish reading this article or my summary you will ask: How does this iron-fisted onetime KGB agent who now rules Russia differ from the bloody days of Josef Stalin?
This is how Putinism differs from Stalinism: There are no mass killings, no purges and fake court trials, no Gulag Archipelago. No need for the Great Terror. Kill one journalist opponent as happened to Anna Politkovskaya last October and everybody gets the idea, especially when the police can't find the killer though they have his photo. Anna Politkovskaya wrote "Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy."
Just before her murder, she wrote: "I will not go into the ... joys of the path I have chosen ... the arrests, the threats in letters and over the Internet, the telephoned death threats, the weekly summons to the prosecutor general's office."
In fact, since Mr. Putin was anointed by then-President Boris Yeltsin as his successor, 13 journalists have been murdered in Russia. One of the murdered journalists, Paul Klebnikov, was an American, the founding editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. He was shot and killed leaving his office July 9, 2004. No arrest. Mr. Putin's lapdog Duma has just passed a law sponsored by the Kremlin that allows assassination abroad of "enemies of the Russian regime." So now it cannot be said there's no rule of law in Russia.
Not one of these murders has, according to Mr. Specter, "been successfully investigated or prosecuted." In the meantime you have Mr. Putin's assurance to President Bush Feb. 24, 2005, that Russia will not return to its totalitarian past.
Could Mr. Bush tell Mr. Putin that if there is any Kremlin-inspired assassination on American soil, the crime would be immediately taken to the U.N. Security Council? I am not so sure President Bush could do that. After all, Mr. Bush said after his first meeting with Mr. Putin that "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He's a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that's the beginning of a very constructive relationship."
Was Mr. Bush aware he was saying this about a supposed democrat who once described the breakup of the Soviet Union as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century" and who publicly toasted the centenary of Stalin's birth?
In one of her last writings, Anna Politkovskaya said: "Yes, stability has come to Russia. It is a monstrous stability under which nobody seeks justice in courts that flaunt their subservience and partisanship. Nobody in his or her right mind seeks protection from the institutions entrusted with maintaining law and order, because they are totally corrupt." Obviously a journalist who talks like that couldn't be allowed to live anymore than Paul Klebnikov was allowed.
I have a little postscript to this column. The New Yorker Moscow correspondent, Michael Specter, is a brave man who takes risks. I hope he doesn't go out alone at night in Moscow and I hope David Remnick, the New Yorker editor, has provided Mr. Specter with bodyguards. Accidents can happen, you know.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

Giustino ütles ...

Attitude of the western countries to present Russia are resembling theirs of 1938 to Germany.

1930s Germany was destroyed for its actions. Does Putin really want to see Dresden-like bombing happen to his hometown? I hope not.

Flasher T ütles ...

+1 to Ilves. The whole monument mess is a straw man for the election campaign, and is getting rather painful to watch.

Read in the paper today that the Greens are at 11% in polls, third only to Centrists and Reform. Looks like more and more people are starting to be embarassed by this whole debacle.

Flasher T ütles ...

1930s Germany was destroyed for its actions. Does Putin really want to see Dresden-like bombing happen to his hometown? I hope not.

What was that French king's soundbite about not caring if there is a flood after he's gone? That's a sentiment you'll often find in Russian rulers.

That said, while I have no love for Russia, I do find the threat of it to the West to be overhyped. Journalists were killed while Yeltzin was in power, and I dare say rather more frequently. The practical difference between Stalin and Putin is that if Putin makes an attempt to stay in power after the end of his second term, he'll be run out of Moscow on a log.

Anonüümne ütles ...

guistino, I strongly suggest watching this movie to you, now that you're in Estonia. Just to get a bit used to the culture :)

http://www.kivilinn.tartu.ee/~ergo/plasku/?dir=./tulnukas

Anonüümne ütles ...

"1930s Germany was destroyed for its actions. Does Putin really want to see Dresden-like bombing happen to his hometown?"

Yeah. Right. This I'd like to see.

Stick to reality please.

Giustino ütles ...

Yeah. Right. This I'd like to see. Stick to reality please.

Everyboy points the finger at his country and says, "Germany 1930s" and I was just following that idea to its conclusion, which was, "what happened to Nazi Germany?"

Answer, they lost.

estonia visitor ütles ...

Sorry, didn't post my name. Few shots of viru valge does that to you.

My point was, it's not going to HAPPEN! I doubt GW in his wildest moments would consider this, let alone the Estonian air force.

But back to the subject at hand, unless you believe someone is actually going to launch an aerial strike on St Petersburg... I think Ilves is actually talking a lot of sense.

Karl/ ütles ...

I agree, Giustino, Estonia needs a wholesome and accurate perception on history and such that would explain, why and how certain things came to be, rather than prove someone wrong. A history delivered on a personal, humane level is something ,that a soviet immigrant can relate to. Also, revealing and admitting estonians' crimes would mount to it's credibility. I'm not suggesting that this will "fix" our country's social integrity but it would be a common ground other than us all being humans.

As for the "Aljoša" there is no other sensible solution than to relocate it to a cemetary. You might say that the statue is not the real issue for russian nationalists, but if we look at it pragmatically, moving the statue would strip them the pretext for mass concession in a densely populated area that that can lead to clashes with estonians. I do realize that they don't actually need rational explanations but consider this: most soviet monuments either in Estonia or Russia are fairly neglected. Tõnismägi is in a place where a lot of people notice, what's happening and where most of the red army veterans can easily commute to.

Karl/ ütles ...

It might amuse you, but I find a slight resemblance in you to Toomas Ilves. He too is more Eestimeelne than eestikeelne. I think you're more of an Estonian patriot than myself. I happened to read a comment of yours (of last year) to someones blog where you swore that if those "bastards" came back, you would have a rifle in each hand.

Therefore I'm glad to read you've decided to dwell in Tartu. But I'm curious: what exactly do you do for living? I already know you have a special expertize. In fact, I think you could hold a small conference concerning "how the world perceives Estonia".

Does that sound ridiculous to you?

Just a wild thought, but to my mind a lot of people in Estonia would be interested. I also think that some people might have certain misconceptions about that.

In addition to my previous comment: you're right, it should be possible not to make any statements or issue any bills about the Bronze Man before the election.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Justin, you gotta read this one, have it translated if need be. Another eye opener on what is really going on ... http://www.delfi.ee/news/paevauudised/arvamus/article.php?id=15011250

Anonüümne ütles ...

Hi there, I'm the half Estonian New Yorker that is all about the A-Train( as long as it is running express).

The bottom line is until Estonia starts writing its own history books ( granted this is underway), they need more good history books in public places. People like Applebaum and Arendt keep coming up, but good luck trying to find them in a public library, especially in places like well, Lihula. This is largely a financial question. You can find them in some of the excellent bookstores Tallin, but when you consider the fact that a new book costs as much as a fifth or more of an average persons monthly salary, it is easy to see why many people have a hard time getting to their well rounded history. Scarily enough when I was in Tallinn last spring, spending some quality time in my refuge, the bookstore in the kaubamaja, I saw "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" on the discount table( in the Kaubamaja Aaah!! Scary!!). Glad it's not a hot item, but No, No, No that should not be an affordable impulse buy either.
Some discounted Solzhenityzn would be nice.
If a lot of the politicians would put their energy into getting sufficient resources for public school history curriculums( Western Encyclopedias tend to be extremely rare birds, the economist, the new york times,all these papers that influence Estonian foreign policy make very few appearences until perhaps university, if then)it seems that this energy would be channeled in much more forward moving way than putting on passion plays in front of kitschy statuary.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Who is all about the A-Train, damm grammer.

taavet ütles ...

About comparing the future and the past (Russia is like 30's Nazi Germany)
The future isn't is not the same what it was in past.
(tulevik pole see, mis ta oli minevikus)

Giustino ütles ...

My point was, it's not going to HAPPEN! I doubt GW in his wildest moments would consider this, let alone the Estonian air force.

Russia is a very perplexing country. Some people (eastern Europeans) are warning of impending doom, others (western Europeans) shrug and say don't worry. I can't predict the future.

I think you're more of an Estonian patriot than myself. I happened to read a comment of yours (of last year) to someones blog where you swore that if those "bastards" came back, you would have a rifle in each hand.

This is the American in me. I grew up knowing that our country won its independence with limited resources on multiple fronts, after many setbacks, against perhaps one of the most powerful empires in the world.

Estonia also won some important conflicts, most obviously the one in 1918-1920. Being here, in the freezing cold, you can see why they won.

Hi there, I'm the half Estonian New Yorker that is all about the A-Train( as long as it is running express).

Ugh. The A Local sucks.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Applebaum's GULAG costs 259 EEK so money can't be an obstacle here... But what's the use of it for estonians? It was once the most sold book and I believe every library has it.

plasma-jack ütles ...

I just read from a blog, jaanuspiirsalu.blogspot.com (an Estonian journalist recently arrived to Moscow) that they just removed a huge, 30m-high monument to World War II veterans from Stavropol, Russia. The apparent motive for removal was the need to build a new highway - very Douglas Adams indeed. No protests in Stavropol. I'm not able to read Russian but those who can, may check the news out themselves:
http://www.trud.ru/issue/shortnews.php?id=49872

dresolve ütles ...

Thought I would share this vignette even if it does not add anything intelligent to this discussion:

My mom has a friend who was born in Northern Ireland. She was amused by the New York Times article on the Bronze Soldier and immediately called my mother to explain that in Ireland they don’t have a problem with controversies stirred by statues and monuments. Any British-themed monuments have been blown to smithereens.

Pēteris Cedriņš ütles ...

"Investigating history and understanding the past is much more important and painstaking work than fighting with monuments," to be sure -- but do these two very different, er, fields... do they really have that much to do with each other in countries that no longer issue "official histories"?

I've never known a decent or even a halfway decent historian to be deterred from painstaking work by battles about monuments, and all of this equivocation or suspicious linkage between sentiment and analysis seems rather suspect to me -- in fact, it seems like some would like to compromise with some Regnum vision of history, just to make people who deny historical fact feel good so that we can all march into a pleasantly pragmatic future, probably at least partially deprived of the truth about our past.

Anonüümne ütles ...

This monument nonsense distracts from far more pressing issues. I think Ilves is the man to raise the level of discussion from petty to serious. He's smart enough to resist posturing. I think a monument of him, pointing downward toward an open textbook, wouldn't look bad on the opposite side of the square. Mitch Greenberg (USA)