One, issue that recurs is the question of status. That is, the very large Russophone community is actually OK with the strategy behind most Estonian language policies -- like school reform -- but they just want some kind of formal recognition or status within society. This is driven home by rightwing-thinking Estonians in the blogosphere who will point out that Russians are not an official minority in Estonia, and therefore deserve no special protection or coveted status.
But when I read the Law on Cultural Autonomy of National Minorities, it seemed quite plain to me that the Republic of Estonia actually does recognize national minorities, several to be precise:
(2) National minority cultural autonomy may be established by persons belonging to German, Russian, Swedish and Jewish minorities and persons belonging to national minorities with a membership of more than 3000.It seems quite clear to me that the Estonian state recognizes that national minorities are Germans, Russians, Swedes, and Jews according to the text of the document, available in Estonian here. Being a national minority gives one the right to form a cultural autonomy.
What is interesting is that the infamous Amnesty Report from 2006 deletes this reference to Russians several times. Namely here:
According to Article 1 and Article 2(2), a cultural autonomy may be founded by Germans, Swedes, Jews or by any other minority consisting of more than 3,000 persons.And here:
According to Article 51 of the Estonian Constitution, in localities where at least one-half of the permanent residents belong to a national minority, everyone has the right to receive responses from state agencies, local governments, and their officials in the language of the national minority. While this provision in theory provides some minority language protection, it is worth noting that it only applies to national minorities, i.e. citizens considered to have long-standing ties to Estonia (including Germans, Swedes and Jews), and thus does not apply to a large portion of the Russian-speaking minority population.Isn't that weird that Amnesty left out that one, very important ethnic group when describing the law in its report? Hmm. I am not alleging anything. Just pointing it out. They do have a good point, that stateless persons, some 120,000 people, should have that same right to cultural autonomy. I am not saying I agree or disagree, but it should be pointed out that Amnesty's Report isn't 100 percent trash talking on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Anyhow, because Flasher is an Estonian citizen and both Russian and Jewish by descent, it turns out he can take part in two whole cultural autonomies, rather than just one. Only in Estonia, folks. Only in Estonia.