reede, november 16, 2007

Jailbirds

Please note, this is the only time I will write about this issue until there is a verdict in the case.

As you know, just when you thought the Bronze Soldier memorial relocation controversy/BS was over, the Estonian state prosecutors office charged four activists with inciting the riots which cost millions of kroons in damage and resulted in over a thousand arrests, countless injuries, and the death of one man.

Dmitri Klenski, Dmitri Linter, Maksim Reva, and Mark Sirõk could face up to five years in prison for assembling the mob that ransacked downtown Tallinn for two nights in April.

As is typical of anything to do with the now placid and pleasantly gardened square on Tõnismägi, the interest in the Klenski-Linter-Reva-Sirõk trial is marked by the usual hysteria and paranoia about the evil intentions of the Estonian state.

It is also marked with the unnerving naivety of people who support Klenski and Linter about how democratic states operate and how, yes, you really can go to jail for assembling thousands of people with the intention to "go to war" as Linter's text message to all his arm-band wearing, 'anti-fascist' friends supposedly put it.

Though it is not a crime, all four should also be charged with being morons. What did they think was going to happen? That the cops weren't going to arrest people for throwing rocks at them? That the state was going to pack up and go home because they were mad that they moved a statue? That they were really going to go to war over the relocation of a war memorial? Sirõk is just 18. He has an excuse. But the others are grown men. What were they thinking?

Most people in Estonia have a mostly good relationship with the state. It operates fairly transparently, one doesn't need an accountant to pay their taxes, they give you a mother's salary when you have a child, they take care of public parks and siphon off EU funds to repair damaged infrastructure.

In short, Estonia is a nice place to live and work, and most people don't appreciate mobs of drunken youths sacking their stores, throwing rocks at their friends and relatives in the police force, et cetera. Maybe they empathize with you over the plight of your favorite statue, but ... empathy has its limit. It is also understood in most democratic countries that if you challenge "the peace" violently, the state has all the rights it needs to make your life a living hell.

Anyway, I feel bad for the four defendants. They could have done something more productive with their lives. Instead they decided to get into a chest-beating contest over a war monument. What a shame.

2 kommentaari:

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Off topic: I just came across this link, a report on the use of Russian in Estonian media.

http://www.aber.ac.uk/mercator/images/MonograffRwsEstaddasiedig.pdf

Max ütles ...

Giustino wrote: Though it is not a crime, all four should also be charged with being morons.

How true. Wilful stupidity does amount to a crime.


"No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power."

-P. J. O'Rourke, Give War A Chance, "Studying For Our Drug Test" (1992).