Before we get to the actual arvamus (opinion), it is important to know who exactly Lauristin is. Lauristin is the daughter of Johannes Lauristin and Olga Lauristin, two Estonian communists that served in the Eesti NSV government. In fact it was Johannes -- a statue of whom you can find in the basement of the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn -- who went to Moscow in 1940 to request admission to the USSR on behalf of the Republic of Estonia. Olga held various positions in the Eesti NSV government in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The popular interpretation of Estonian communist participation in the overthrow of the Estonian republic is often boiled down to the idea that they were but simple idealists who were cynically used by the Stalinist state. This interpretation makes sense when one considers that the June communists of 1940 were poets and intellectuals, rather than the Soviet mafia that dominated Stalin's USSR.
Indeed, there is a Huey Newton meets Mao odor to the relationship between the Estonian left and the USSR. It is important to remember too, in these days of right-wing government, that many prominent Estonian politicians in the pre-war era were left wing. For example, August Rei, who set up the exile government in Oslo, was a staunch social democrat.
Anyway, it was because of Lauristin's background, rather than in spite of it, that she -- an academic -- was able to speak with extra gravitas about rejecting the Soviet Union and putting Estonia on the path to restoring independence. Imagine Laidoner's son speaking out against Estonian independence or Ronald Reagan's son speaking in favor of stem-cell research. Here was living proof that Estonian communism was dead.
Lauristin helped found the Popular Front in Estonia -- which organized the Baltic Way in 1989 -- and served as minister of social affairs in the early 90s. Since then she has returned to the world of academia, publishing influential books like 1997's Return to the Western World. These days she remains a 'thought leader' -- someone who is still obviously capable of stirring the public discussion about important issues.
It is also because of this background that one commenter replied to the following piece by saying, "Well, you are your parents' child."
Lauristin's arvamus from Aug. 11, is entitled "Estonians' Intolerance Feeds the Russian Propaganda Machine." It is a heavy-duty work to translate which sent me to my dictionary only to find out the word in question translates as 'coherence.'
Her main point is that despite Estonian language acquisition, Estonia's Russian community is isolated in Estonia by a lack of government initiative and a majority that is suspicious of its entrance into politics."During the years that integration monitoring has been done it has been shown that citizenship and Estonian language utilization by foreigners helps grow a positive attitude about Estonia inside, but this has not been brought together among at the same time tolerance and openmindedness," she writes.
"For Estonian-speakers and those that are not originally from Estonia that have gotten Estonian Republic citizenship, the Estonian community's views have been encumbered by distrust to the deepest root of Russian-speaking residents' participation in Estonian economy and politics," she adds.
She goes on to say that this mistrust, along with the failure to address problems in the Russian-speaking community have furthered this division among Estonia's residents.
"There is no need to wonder that growth of knowledge of Estonian language is for Russian-speaking resident a big letdown and their motivation grows weaker to apply for citizenship," she writes. "Although the necessity to draw more attention to community stability and social coherence has been spoken about for years, integration's social side has not first of all been able to mitigate risks like drug addiction, HIV, and level of unemployment."
In a very long section, that I am hesitant to translate, she goes onto to describe how the Bronze Soldier controversy widened this division, where ethnic Russians feel more distant from ethnic Estonians and ethnic Estonians believe that they must take a more hard line stance (kõva käe) in reaction to the youth shouting 'Rossija, Rossija'
Lauristin's solution is that Estonia must make a strong effort to counter Russian propaganda in Estonia. She calls Estonia's current response of not responding to the onslaught of negative information about Estonia manufactured by the Russian Foreign Ministry "submissive and cynical."
"Estonia should not downgrade the Estonian answer to this propaganda capmaign and high-pressure effect, when one significant aim is to influence Russian compatriots in Estonia," she writes. "Estonia needs a professional propaganda response strategy. The Estonian central media can certainly be widened so that it supports the needs of most Estonians and non-Estonians."
Lauristin writes that "the opinion, that we should not answer what the Russian media does to Estonian Russian consciousness (and at the same time also what Russian media tells to Western journalists), is submissive and cynical."
She argues that in "the Russian-speaking auditorium (especially for the young) they are offered in their mother language the possibility for discussion that is emotionally charged and interesting via audio visual messages that create Estonia (and Estonian short-term and long-term history) and other images while it brings Russian propaganda. In this place it must not be allowed to forget that in the Russian auditorium there are not only Russians. The audio visual output also influences nationalities."
In conclusion, Lauristin says that it "must be argued that the biggest thing is that the non-Estonians that live in Estonia do not believe Russian politicians nor wait for Russia to solve their own problems. The Estonian government needs to make all possible, that that our Russian-speaking compatriots are not receptive to Russia's propaganda war."