These were the flags of the USSR, a country that had attacked Finland only 29 years prior and had annexed most of Karelia and along with it Finland's second most important city Vyborg, displacing 400,000 people and making one out of every eight Finns a refugee.
However, those men, as loyal as they were to a country that had often been hostile to Finnish independence, were left to wave their little red flags and talk of communist solidarity. And one by one they died, and with them, their cause.
Such is the strength of liberal democracy. Rather than using the resources of the state to crack down on opponents, the liberal democracy sets the ground rules for appropriate dissent, allows opponents of policies to make their voices heard, and then, depending on internal politics, either uses those voices for political gain or ignores them.
According to Kommersant, tomorrow's great provocation will be again organized by Night Watch and with the implicit consent of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Estonia. It will again take place at Tõnismägi, which has become symbolic of the loss of Soviet space in Tallinn's city center.
What should the Estonian response be? To let them wear red, of course. Let them lay flowers, let them sing Communist songs. And when their moment of irritating the authorities is over, roundly denounce them for what they are: Communists. They may not consider themselves such, but if you are wearing red, and singing songs of the USSR, then I think it's fair game to be called a Communist. And once they become known as young Communists, they will become even less politically relevant because Communism is a corpse.
The future participants of the rally are asked to wear read, which will remind Estonian police of the red flag, which they see as one of the symbols of occupation. Raising red flag at a rally might be punished by arrest. Young Russians want to tickle the authorities’ nerves with red clothes.
Do not call them "Russian scum" and do not call all assemblies by forces hostile to the Estonian government "hooliganism". But always remember to put each and every act in the proper European context and let liberal democracy do the rest. Rioters are rioters -- as they are in Budapest and in Paris. Communists are communists, as they are in Rome and Berlin and London.
Finally, Russian nationalists in Estonia are cowards, because they are too afraid of their motherland to venture back there. Those that burn Estonian flags and chant "Rossija" are cowards because, inside, they prefer the good life of Tallinn, with its exquisite shops and charming architecture, with its growing economy, to the shantytowns that lie across the border. So, by all means, Russian nationalists should be called on this fault in their character. One good turn deserves another.
In the end, the strongest society is the one that is the most tolerant of its dissidents and puts their actions in the proper context. Whether they be young hooligans, young Communists, or displaced Russian nationalists, a liberal democracy is elastic enough to handle them. If the government stays true to these principles, tomorrow should go off without a hitch.