neljapäev, aprill 19, 2007

Coming soon to a capital near you ...

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says there will be "severe consequences" for moving the monument to a cemetery. One wonders, will such consequences include the rape and mutilation of women, the mass execution of Estonian leaders, and carting Ilves off for a lengthy stay in Tver? Or just a boycott of Hapukoor. Stay tuned.

57 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

let's face it...Estonia produced that misery by their own hesitation...would they have just silently removed that thing (already years ago), there wouldn't be anyone crying about that piece of medal which became a subject of disput between very extremist parties...

plasma-jack ütles ...

yep, the Russians can handle that kind of things much better:
http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/382639

let's admit, they're right - sometimes we're just too slow.

Infidel753 ütles ...

Is Lavrov representing the Russian Federation or the Russian Mafia? Protesting is one thing, but "threatening consequences" is quite another -- bullying a sovereign country which also happens to be a member of NATO.

Russians need to ask themselves how they would feel if a foreign power tried to dictate what monuments should or should not be displayed in Moscow.

Kristjan ütles ...

I think Plasma-Jack is right. And I think having bad relations with this Russia is in Estonia's long-term interests.

So the proper response to Lavrov is, "why don't you go fuck yourself?"

plasma-jack ütles ...

http://www.regnum.ru/english/economy/815399.html

Giustino ütles ...

To Plasma:

So the Narva area will be turned into some kind of Mariehamn of the Russian Federation?

Kristopher ütles ...

Bizarre. Ansip -- last time I checked, the head of government -- is weighing in at length on forensics topics.

"If something is found, it's a question of what is found -- a medieval bone or one from a later period, and who the bone belongs to."

Three words: too much CSI.

plasma-jack ütles ...

the metaphor is lost on me, I'm afraid

Giustino ütles ...

Bizarre. Ansip -- last time I checked, the head of government -- is weighing in at length on forensics topics.

This is his baby. I think they see themselves as doing the future Estonia a favor. Ie. in 2020 this won't be a glimmer of an issue.

Giustino ütles ...

the metaphor is lost on me, I'm afraid

Mariehamn is the capital of the Aaland Islands -- which are ethnically Swedish but politically Finnish. It's a popular ferry stop because it offers Swedes access to cheap booze et cetera -- the Swedish good stuff minus the Swedish regulations.

Kari ütles ...

DELFI claims that some of the russian parliament promotes military action to recover the remains. The idea of desecrating is supposed to a great casus belli. If they want the statue so bad, I support sending it straight to Russia. Oops, they destroy monuments there too. I wonder where can the fallen ones finally get some peace.
Other thoughts. As Infidel points out bullying another nation is not nice. Especially a NATO member. How about some minor military operations in the same country?

Kaarel ütles ...

Well, no secret we made a mistake, as the first commentator said. Nothing much to discuss about that subject anymore - we'll be smarter next time!

Anonüümne ütles ...

This is going to get ugly. Does anyone believe that this whole issue can be resolved peacefully without the steet level violence?

Kari ütles ...

If they just remove it everything will die down after a month at max. I doubt there will be any actual violence. Afterall, all it takes are some policemen in riot suits and a red crane. I am willig to bet that most, if not all of the action about to happen is funded by FSB or another similar organisation and I mean both sides. It is just a statue, no streetfighting or anything will happen.

Giustino ütles ...

This is going to get ugly. Does anyone believe that this whole issue can be resolved peacefully without the steet level violence?

There will probably be some violence. I don't know what the outcome will be for Tallinn's Russian community. Some of them are well integrated, others are quite marginalized. The integration versus marginalization trend predates the removal of this monument. Perhaps we can expect a continuation of the status quo.

The Russians already hate the Estonians. They have since the late 80s when they too began undergoing a period of nationalist rebirth. They certainly hated them in 1940 when they dumped their political victims in wells in Kuressaare. One cannot accomplish such deeds without the requisite anger and hatred.

So how will this figure in Russian-Estonian relations? Well, they'll continue to be bad. Maybe those in favor of the removal think by showing some balls, the Russians will learn to respect the Estonians. That may be. I mean Russia fought a bloody and unjust war against Finland in 1939 and yet today they act as if they are the best of friends. Finland is also not part of Russia's so called "near abroad" though it shares a much longer border with Russia than Estonia. How they've managed to accomplish that feat is beyond me.

Kristjan ütles ...

I, er... have to correct my first comment here a little. :-) It's just that Russian bullying is something that pisses me off really a lot, I won't have Estonia taking it.

The truth of the matter is that this is an internal affair, and it's none of Russia's business. We do what is right for Estonia, and if Russia doesn't like it, they can go fu.. - ok, you get the drift. :-)

Russia doesn't have a case. They don't have a case. And yet they desperately want their "empire" to survive, and Estonia to be controllable. And they desperately need everyone to pat them on the back for WW2, because otherwise they don't have a national identity. And so they squeal.

But that's none of our business. We deal with our problems, and they have to deal with theirs. We're separate countries now, in case someone hasn't noticed.

Andres ütles ...

I'm still under the impression that this gets WAY TOO MUCH press. It's completely not worth the effort. Let's just remove it and it'll go away. Like the woman whos breathing tube was removed as guistino once presented a catchy parallel.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Apparently in Russia, they remove war graves to make way for prostitutes...
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2007/04/20/014.html

karLos ütles ...

I honestly don't understand why Russians have a problem with this. if they want to move the statue and the graves to a war cemetery, isn't that a far more appropriate place for both these things to be, even a far nicer place? it is exactly what they would do in Russia... if only for hookers lol...

the complete lack of any logic behind comment in russian media only highlights their arrogance, involving themselves in estonian affairs.

Giustino ütles ...

I'm still under the impression that this gets WAY TOO MUCH press. It's completely not worth the effort. Let's just remove it and it'll go away. Like the woman whos breathing tube was removed as guistino once presented a catchy parallel.

I think that for most people WWII is finally becoming historical -- and because it is now history, we can look a bit more accurately at it and feel comfortable exploring its nuances as a historical event.

This is just a convenient vehicle for doing that.

Anonüümne ütles ...

The removal of the monument in Khimt, Russia, is a bit of a silly comparison (though I love a cheap shot at Russia as much as the next person).

Though we could take a page out of that local decision and allege that lowlifes are gathering on Tõnismägi. But that would be a lie. Plenty of cranks and weirdos both Estonian and Russian but not many lowlifes per se.

Anyway, life is getting too good, so I support taking down the monument by as much force as necessary. I have this Travis Bickle side to me, where I need a paroxysm of reaction against the world every now and then, and I suspect Estonia does too.

"Turn the clock back" -- 60 years or 16 years. Probably the latter.

Anonüümne ütles ...

The removal of the monument in Khimt, Russia, is a bit of a silly comparison (though I love a cheap shot at Russia as much as the next person).

Though we could take a page out of that local decision and allege that lowlifes are gathering on Tõnismägi. But that would be a lie. Plenty of cranks and weirdos both Estonian and Russian but not many lowlifes per se.


I think you entirely miss the point, being the total hypocracy of Russia's position. If these monuments are as sacred as Russia claims, presumably they would move the prostitutes, not the monument.

Kristopher ütles ...

No I don't miss the point. There is no double standard and it would look bad for Estonia to allege that there is one.

The Russian federal government backed or knew much of the local decision to remove that statue. (In this case, HE Uspenski is right).

Two, Russia has never said that all such monuments are sacred. I am sure there is a close to endless supply of them on that side of the border. The problem for them is it is the only one in Estonia.

Thus no hypocracy, as you say, and no hypocrasy or hypocrisy either.

Don't misrepresent the arguments of your opponent. It's so "Russian establishment". It always comes back to weaken your own case later.

Kristopher ütles ...

second graf should read:
There is no evidence the Russian federal government backed or knew much of the local decision to remove that statue. (In this case, HE Uspenski is right).

Giustino ütles ...

Two, Russia has never said that all such monuments are sacred. I am sure there is a close to endless supply of them on that side of the border. The problem for them is it is the only one in Estonia.

Are there any other prominently placed war memorials in Tallinn? I don't recall the 2 meter high statue of a vabadussõdur.

Just asking.

Martin ütles ...

Kristopher said...

Two, Russia has never said that all such monuments are sacred. I am sure there is a close to endless supply of them on that side of the border. The problem for them is it is the only one in Estonia.

Don't misrepresent the arguments of your opponent. It's so "Russian establishment". It always comes back to weaken your own case later.


In fact there are dozens of Soviet war memorials in Estonia, not one, as you falsely claim. Why would Russia consider this particular monument to a handful of soldiers more sacred than others in Estonia, or more sacred than the one in Khimt?

You ought not make misleading arguments, it will only weaken your case.

Kristopher ütles ...

My understanding is during the Parts government, the Maarjamäe obelisk became de facto a universal WWII war monument. There was a ceremony held there on VE day, with foreign defence attaches participating, it was a very clear gesture, I think it was in 2005.

Which other monumenrs are there specifically to Soviet war dead in Tallinn that are not universal or have not been "reclaimed"? I really don't know, so please fill me in.

jam ütles ...

I am from Latvia and I totally agry with Estonian governm. I would be nice to know if there is at least one nazi monument in the whole Russia left. So why there must be one from intruders in Tallinn?

Martin ütles ...


Kristopher said...
My understanding is during the Parts government, the Maarjamäe obelisk became de facto a universal WWII war monument. There was a ceremony held there on VE day, with foreign defence attaches participating, it was a very clear gesture, I think it was in 2005.

Which other monumenrs are there specifically to Soviet war dead in Tallinn that are not universal or have not been "reclaimed"? I really don't know, so please fill me in.

Yes, indeed there is a universial War Memorial complex within a short bus ride from Tallinn city centre at the lovely seaside location of Maarjamäe, dedicated to all war dead incuding Soviet. Certainly more peaceful compared to the bus stop location of the Bronze Soldier where drunken youths gather and urinate.

I don't recall a monument specifically for Waffen SS war dead within the Centre of Tallinn. So why should there be another memorial exclusively for Soviets only? Memorials should be a place of reconciliation, however this exclusive Soviets-only memorial has become a symbol of division in society. That is why it is being moved to the inner-city Siselinna Cemetery

Giustino ütles ...

Memorials should be a place of reconciliation, however this exclusive Soviets-only memorial has become a symbol of division in society.

But without the free trip to siberia as a youth, Lennart Meri might not have made all those great films. You Estonians should be grateful, not bitter -- I mean, come on, look on the bright side for a change ;)

Kristjan ütles ...

Yes... I think we're quite like the Jews in this respect. They, too, are unable to be grateful for the Holocaust, even though we wouldn't have such great movies as "Schindler's List" or "La vita è bella" without it.

Giustino ütles ...

They, too, are unable to be grateful for the Holocaust, even though we wouldn't have such great movies as "Schindler's List" or "La vita è bella" without it.

Perhaps the Jews are the least grateful, followed by the Estonians -- or are the Armenians in there some where as well. Let's not forget my New York brethren the Iroquois!

Ungrateful bastards -- the lot of them!

Kristjan ütles ...

Exactly! Some people just don't know what's good for them. :-)

Kristopher ütles ...

Point taken, Martin, and I have long supported "reclaiming" the Bronze Soldier so he is not solely dedicated to the Soviets. Including dressing him up in a different uniform, or -- on the wacky side -- renaming him as the Kristjan Palusalu monument. (He resembles the double gold medalist to a T and why should Georg Lurich have two statues/relief carvings in downtown Tallinn and Palusalu none :)?)

But you said there were many Soviet WWII memorials still in Estonia. Any in Tartu, for example?

Scott ütles ...

Kristopher:

One: I have long supported "reclaiming" the Bronze Soldier so he is not solely dedicated to the Soviets. Including dressing him up in a different uniform, or -- on the wacky side -- renaming him as the Kristjan Palusalu monument.

The monument has already been re-named. If you read the words on the monument, (located on the left-hand wall) it was dedicated to "all that died in WWII", sometime since '91. That doesn't prevent anybody from still calling it the "soldier-liberator" and creating a magnet for trouble.

Two: Russia has never said that all such monuments are sacred. I am sure there is a close to endless supply of them on that side of the border. The problem for them is it is the only one in Estonia.

Don't misrepresent the arguments of your opponent. It's so "Russian establishment". It always comes back to weaken your own case later.


There are plenty of Soviet monuments on "this side" of the border. But the Russian Foreign Minister, Ivanov, has referred to the moving of this particular monument as "blasphemy". If something is blasphemy, that implies some form of sacred nature, no?

Three: There is no double standard and it would look bad for Estonia to allege that there is one.

The Russian federal government backed or knew much of the local decision to remove that statue. (In this case, HE Uspenski is right).


I have no idea whether the monument that was moved because of the actions of prostitutes is a double-standard, "blasphemy" or something else. It IS a funny story, however.

What is not so funny, but is undeniable, is that Stravopol moved a similar monument to make way for a highway not long ago.

But enough picking of nits. It's showtime. Gustino, your "tick, tick, tick" is over.

The excavation will start this week, maybe as early as Wednesday. Police are being called up from other cities to spend a week or so enjoying Tallinn's hospitality.

I expect some kind of physical confrontation in the park by Friday afternoon.

Martin ütles ...

The fact is Estonia is obligated by the Geneva convention to re-locate the bodies to a cemetery.

Article 17 of Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Geneva, 12 August 1949. states:
They shall further ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found.


The commentary attached to the treaty clarifies the meaning of "grouping":
B. ' Grouping. ' -- Graves are further to be grouped, if possible according to the nationality of the deceased. This idea again is not new. The Conference of Government Experts in April 1947 was anxious to avoid the hasty roadside burials which were so frequent a feature of recent wars, and urged the grouping of graves. The Diplomatic Conference of 1949 adopted this proposal, indicating in addition the basis on which the grouping was to take place. The basis selected -- that o nationality -- cannot, quite obviously, be made obligatory; but it is the one which military authorities will most naturally select in grouping graves. Grouping in this manner will make it possible for countries to pay collective tribute to their dead at a later date. But the main essential is to ensure that the graves are in fact grouped in cemeteries.


It is clear, the fact that soldiers are buried along a roadside in unmarked graves adjacent to the Bronze Soldier is in clear breach of the Geneva Convention. Estonia is entirely correct, and in fact obligated, to re-locate these graves to a cemetey. Case closed.

Giustino ütles ...

I expect some kind of physical confrontation in the park by Friday afternoon.

Perhaps its best to not let these things fester beneath the surface.

But it's always hard to guess the outcome in these kinds of situations.

Scott ütles ...

It's begun.

The police started surrounding the square at 4:30 Thursday morning.

Kristjan ütles ...

So far so good.

I also have to thank the Russian embassy for their exceptionally spirit-lifting squeal this morning. :-)

(In case you've missed it, what's happening is inhumane and they still don't allow it.)

Giustino ütles ...

Some thoughts:

* This is Ansip following through on an issue he's helped keep alive, even though its mostly dead. This is going to have an impact on his political future. I don't think he won big in March because the most people like him (as he sees to think). I think he won big because people were happy with the status quo and they didn't want to vote for Savisaar.

* Savisaar is thinking "ca-ching!" in terms of votes. I don't think he wants the monument to stay either. It's too good for him if they move it.

* The Red Army's legacy in Estonia is mixed. We can all agree on that beating Hitler was a great thing of which to be proud. But the orchestrated coup against the Estonian state and the mass repressions that occured were crimes against the Estonians, and Moscow's refusal to acknowledge this burns a hole in the Estonian political soul.

It's amazing that after 60+ years history can be so emotional. But if you are looking for more awful comparisons, look no further than this.

When the Stuarts were restored on the throne of England in 1660, the first thing they did was dig up Cromwell's corpse and play football with his head.

The English; a lovely, European people.

Kristjan ütles ...

Giustino,

As usual, I think you're wrong. :-P

1) I think this is Ansip solving a very real problem in an absolutely correct, yet unpopular way. For the first time in his career, he's doing a "Laar".

2) Savisaar will not gain from this.

3) We don't have to apologize for a damn thing, nor find justifications for it! The aim of the action is to identify the remains and transfer them to a cemetary. It is the right and civil thing to do, and it is our obligation according to the Geneva Convention. I don't see what playing footie with Cromwell's head has to do with it.

Please, people abroad, have a think through about what the Estonian government is doing. And then glance at the photos of the police operation that is necessary to do it. And then you might start getting an idea of what's really happening here, and what's at stake here.

http://www.postimees.ee/galerii/index.php?picture=18610

plasma-jack ütles ...

that gallery is definitely going to convince everyone that we're not a bunch on weirdos...
but anyway - we're in frontpage of the homepage of bloody Reuters. it doesn't happen every day. quite balanced view, I'd say.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKL2638990120070426

Giustino ütles ...

I think this is Ansip solving a very real problem in an absolutely correct, yet unpopular way. For the first time in his career, he's doing a "Laar".

I don't think that it will have an negative or positive impact, but an impact definitely. Future -- and current -- generations may thank him for removing the grave to a cemetery. But right now, in 2009, will 'feel good' Estonia reward him for bringing this issue up again and again and again.

You think yes. I am not sure.


Savisaar will not gain from this.

Ah, but he thinks he will gain from this. That's why he's not standing up there with Night Watch as the Mayor of Tallinn :)

We don't have to apologize for a damn thing, nor find justifications for it!

But that's how it all started. With a scuffled between some protestors last May. One of the protestors was Isamaaliitlane Trivimi Velliste, carrying a sign that read 'this soldier occupied our land.'

Then Tiit Madisson showed up with Jüri Liim and they promised to blow the thing up. Surely you remember this.

The aim of the action is to identify the remains and transfer them to a cemetary. It is the right and civil thing to do, and it is our obligation according to the Geneva Convention.

That would have been a great argument if it had been made from the start. Instead it went from 'symbol of occupation' to 'unfit site for a war grave' to 'hey, now, we're just fulfilling our obligations under the Geneva conventions.'

Obviously people [rightly] sense there's more to it than that.

I don't see what playing footie with Cromwell's head has to do with it.

Just some more British bashing. I spend a lot of time in the company of Irish people. Forgive me.

Please, people abroad, have a think through about what the Estonian government is doing. And then glance at the photos of the police operation that is necessary to do it. And then you might start getting an idea of what's really happening here, and what's at stake here.

If this will keep Stalinist apologists out of central Tallinn for awhile, then that's great.

BUT, I am afraid that this may be just a notch in the belt of individuals that feel that it is their position in society to continuously challenge the sovereignty of the Estonian state.

If there's one group of people I sympathize with now, it's the cops. So far they've done a good job in a tough situation. They should be congratulated.

Kristjan ütles ...

Giustino,

Of course you're right that it didn't start with the aim of transferring the remains of the soldiers to a cemetary. It started with an openly hostile display against the Estonian Republic, which involved waving Soviet flags and tearing down Estonian flags.

That's the real issue, of course - the difference of perception of history of ethnic Russians and ethnic Estonians. This is something Ansip will not solve, no matter what he does.

However, the dynamics of the matter have changed considerably over the past year, I think. Currently, and most importantly, the question at hand is whether the Government of the Republic is able to carry through an action that is entirely just and right, but strongly opposed by Russia (for reasons which have little to do with truth and justice and much to do with Russian geopolitical interests).

What happens over the next few weeks will establish for a long time the credibility of the Estonian government. In the eyes of ethnic Estonians and Russians alike. It is a matter of grave importance.

We can't solve the underlying problem, but we can keep the credibility of the Republic, on which depends... absolutely everything!

Including the possibility for real dialogue about history after this is over, which is the only way to really solve the issue.

Giustino ütles ...

What happens over the next few weeks will establish for a long time the credibility of the Estonian government. In the eyes of ethnic Estonians and Russians alike. It is a matter of grave importance.

You are so convincing, really.

But I have swung back and forth on this for a long time. I can't argue though that a cemetery isn't an appropriate place for a war grave and a monument to war dead.

Looks like a done deal now, despite Savisaar's last minute cynical hope that it isn't. Somebody should invent a time machine so we can send him back to 1860s Manhattan. He'd be right in his element.

Kristjan ütles ...

I can't argue though that a cemetery isn't an appropriate place for a war grave and a monument to war dead.


I think it's essential to move this monument to the cemetery. There is, however, no reason why we couldn't establish a new monument for the war dead - even on the same site!

There is no reason why we couldn't accept and live with differing views on WW2. What we can never accept and tolerate, however, are actions by Russia that are meant to discredit and weaken the Estonian Republic with the aim of having more control over us. If we tolerate that, we are doomed.

Kristjan ütles ...

...and rightly so.

Scott ütles ...

Well, it looks like the first scrum is set for 6 p.m. The Russians have been agitating on the Delfi portal all day.

This is certain to end well.

Kristjan ütles ...

This is certain to end well.


I think so, too. Without any sarcasm. The police can handle it.

Scott ütles ...

See, Kristjan,

My sarcasm is all-knowing and all-powerful.

As am I.

Kristjan ütles ...

Yes, boss. ;-)

Anonüümne ütles ...

if there will be "severe consequences" it will be the fault of ur own government.. the soldier is symbol of pride and recognition of the sacrifice during WWII not only for russians in the Russian Federation but also for a huge segment of ur own population, additionally the monument does not narrow itself to only the russian losses but of the the whole Soviet Union neglecting the ethnical origin of the fallen... hence Lavrov was not representing ether the RF or the so called russian mafia but the Russian people as a whole.. The Soviet Union had one of the highest % loss of population during WWII (if no the highest), much more that e.g. the USA, behind whose back the Estonia government is not hiding.. the memory of this should not be forgotten or simply thrown away.. this act can only been see as an act of provocation, at a difficult time for the relationship between the EU and Russia, a time where the estonia government knew that the EU would not be able to directly oppose the act.. every consequences from now on will be more than justified..

Giustino ütles ...

every consequences from now on will be more than justified..

Right. You move a statue, any response is justified. What kind of insane world is this?

Better not sneeze. You might hurt Russia's ego.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Dumb american here who happens to be a minority in the USA:

Sad to hear news from Tallinn. First thought was "can't we all just get along."

But then checked myself as I almost threw down yesterday when Gov agents came into my community and we almost rioted.

Puts perspective on actions over there and over here.

... ütles ...

i'm no bloody yankee... all response from the side of the russian government is justified.. what do u expect when u try to provoke people (because that's what the act was) u should expect an equally drastic response.. it's not just "moving a statue" it is removing or hiding a symbol of recollection of something which is sacred to so many people...

plus, at least i tried to use reasons to back up my points, while you're just trying to insult me.. and i'm supposed to be the dumb one???...

Giustino ütles ...

The Russian government loves this. They have been running anti-Estonian propaganda through their state-run media for years, long before this controversy surfaced.
This is more food for their 24-hour anti-Estonian news cycle.

Giustino ütles ...

PS. Any response is not justified for relocating a war memorial. It's just not.

Developing nuclear capabilities? Drastic response.

Moving war memorial to cemetery?
*Yawn*

Hysterical people made this situation hysterical on all sides.

In 2004 they pulled the statue of the Estonian soldier in German uniform out of Lihula.

Why? Because the regime he was affiliated with represented conducted war crimes against the Estonian people.

Ditto for the Bronze Soldier. Once that memorial came down, Mr. Bronze's fate was sealed.

I am not sayng I fully agree, but that's just how it goes.

And just because you are louder and break windows and burn things and have the Russian state-controlled media on your side does not make your cause more just.

I understand that this memorial was special for many people. But at the same time the defenders of the monument that allied with the Russian foreign ministry shot themselves in the foot. The looters totally screwed themselves. No one will ever take them seriously again.

They've got to ditch Klenski and Zarenkov and get some real leaders, pronto, in order to better represent the needs of their community. The Stalinist apologist stuff just won't cut it in the Estonian public debate.