Diene generated media coverage by trying to peddle Estonia down the official state language route. His comments received attention in both the Estonian and Russian media. Even I weighed in. But what of the actual report? Well, you can see why the Russian Federation has decided not to rebroadcast it through its state-owned media channels.
For starters, Diene regurgitates the Western version of Estonian history, whereby the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact allowed Stalin a free hand in occupying the country. Consider, for example, this line from Diene's report:
After the German defeat in 1944, the second Soviet occupation started and Estonia became a Soviet republic. The first decade of the occupation, under Stalin, was particularly repressive, as Moscow attempted to implement a policy of Russification of the Baltic states, directly affecting education and cultural activities, including language.
Throughout the report, Diene references Estonia's challenges of "asymmetrical bilingualism." Diene also concluded that, "the Estonian authorities, in particular the Prime Minister, have shown political will to tackle the problems related to racism and racial discrimination in the country." Finally, he states that Estonia has historically shown itself to be accommodating to multiculturalism, and that it must use this innate social feature to deal with present challenges.
To me, though, the real gem was the segment of the report that dealt with a roundtable on minorities that took place in Jõhvi. It's a gem, because through Diene, I finally get some insight into what Estonian Russians are thinking. Think about it this way -- we exist in an Estonian-language information space. No one we know is stateless. We don't consume Russian media. And my own inability to understand the local Russian media makes them effectively silent. To me, their newspapers are comprised of odd geometrical shapes on a page. I can pick out words, but context? No.
So I found it interesting that the main concerns of the roundtable in Jõhvi were not the "glorification of fascism." Instead they criticized the language inspectorate, expressed concerns about the school reform and what burdens it would place on Russian-speaking pupils as well as teachers, and Diene himself recommended easing citizenship restrictions for the young and old. Finally, they are tired of being seen as disloyal to the state and would like modern historiography to emphasize the support of some of the community for the restoration of independence.
You see, your average Estonian voter probably rarely thinks about the language inspectorate because he or she has never known anyone who was subject to a language inspection. They don't think about old, stateless ladies in Sillamäe because they don't live in Sillamäe and they never encounter those old, stateless ladies. They don't worry about school reform because their schools are already operating in Estonian language.
They have probably encountered asymmetrical bilingualism, though, and they privately detest it. They can't figure out how they could have learned a language so different from their own without reciprocity from the other group. Hence, they support policies to end it. If the state says that school reform and a language inspectorate will help, then they support it. They are not experts, after all. Just people with other priorities. They don't want to turn Russians into Estonians. They just want to be able to go to the hospital in Kohtla-Järve and not have to fumble through their decades-old Russian vocabulary to tell the doc what's wrong.
But, anyway, I found reading the report valuable. Go and read and tell me what you think.