First, I would like to slime Schüler, not for insulting the fatherland of Estonia, but because he was unable to put several concepts together to better explain the situation for his readers.
Schüler writes about Estonia's large industrial ethnic Russian population brought here during the Soviet period. Then he writes about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then he writes about high unemployment and drug use that has contributed to a high rate of HIV among Russophones in northeast Estonia. Then he writes about the high percentage of ethnic Russians in Estonian jails. And what's to blame for all of this? The Language Act.
You see, if all Estonia's institutions had Cyrillic lettering on their signs, everything would be better. Even though ETV offers news in Russian, most commercial forms are available in Russian, and even Postimees -- the newspaper of Jaan Tõnisson who encouraged the switch from German to Estonian in public life a century ago -- has a Russian edition (!), it's still not enough.
If Estonia was like Finland, then everything would be different. There would be no large unemployed minority in industrial northeastern cities that turned to crime and drug use to ease their pain and accidentally contracted HIV. Why? Because Finland kept the Soviet Union out of Finland.
If only he could have managed to connect the obvious dots of large migrant population + economic collapse = unemployment = increased crime and drug use and suicide, Schüler might have managed to serve his readers. But he didn't.
In his article he uses reports by Amnesty International and others to back up his interpretation. But that got me wondering about how Russian speakers were treated across the Gulf of Finland where they now make up nearly 1 percent of the population, putting them in striking distance of the Swedes (5.5 percent) for having their language coequal with Finnish.
It turned out that in the Council of Europe's latest report on Finland, published just last month, it was found that Russian speakers there are complaining about their level of support there too:
Representatives of the speakers informed the Committee of Experts during an "on the spot" visit that they have difficulties in developing a dialogue with the government regarding the status of the Russian language.Russians have difficulties in developing a dialogue regarding their status? The Finns are closing Russian libraries and dispersing their books to "specialized libraries" where they will be kept out of the hands of Russian speakers?
In addition, during the on the spot visit, the Committee of Experts was informed by the speakers about the possible closure of the Russian public library of the Institute for Russian and East European Studies. As a result, the books would be dispersed in different specialized libraries not open to the public.
Did I mention that Finns like to wear rings with swastikas on them? They even defend their collaboration with Nazi Germany during the Continuation War in 1944? I know, it's really ugly up there in Halonen country.
One can only hope that the next time The Independent sends a reporter to Estonia, they'll wind up writing about Finland. Seems like a natural choice.