esmaspäev, juuni 30, 2008

tume energia

There is something about the word "Duma" that doesn't sound right in the Estonian language. Perhaps it is that, at least to my ears, it resembles the word tuuma --nuclear. And what does a tuumajaam (nuclear power plant) generate? Tume energia -- literally "dark energy."

Yesterday's display of dark energy came from the lips of Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma committee on international affairs.

Kosachev himself is an example of the weirdness of Russian political life. He is technically a politician, but he never faces off in a competitive election. So he's not actually accountable to anyone. It's not like it is in the US, where if you got tired of Sen. Alphonse D'Amato you could trade him for Sen. Chuck Schumer, or if you got tired of watching fake cowboy Sen. George Allen tossing footballs out to the crowds, you could part ways with him and vote for Sen. Jim Webb. No, Russia is stuck with Kosachev. He is only responsible to the chairman and CEO of Kremlin, Inc. -- Vladimir Putin.

His speech, through which he tried to deplore the hypocrisy of the European community in its attitudes towards last year's riots in Tallinn, came out all wrong:

“In Estonia when the defenders of the monument celebrating the conquerors of fascism were beaten by police, there were no open letters, or resolutions to the European Parliament, no condolences sent - only complaints that youths outraged by murder had interrupted the Estonian ambassador’s transportation.”

Is it just me, or is there something a bit chilling about the Russian usage of "youths"? It reminds me of another fellow that's always on about the "youths" and their service to the cause.

The dilemma here really comes back to the Potemkin candidacy of "politicians" like Kosachev. And that is that the Nashi "youths" who harassed the Estonian ambassador's transportation are a pro-Kremlin group founded by and funded by the state. They were working, like everyone else, at the behest of Mr. Putin and his "United Russia" party. How can their outrage ever be taken seriously? Who buys them their neat jackets and organizes their camp love-ins?

Then, of course, we must unpick Kosachev's statement. Were his loyal "youths" beaten because they were "defending the monument" or because they were throwing rocks at police? I was in Tallinn the week after the show went on, and I witnessed first hand the huge damage to private and public property. In my opinion, there was probably not enough police presence in Tallinn during the first night of disorder. Perhaps Mr. Dmitri Ganin would still be alive had the politsei managed to seal off downtown. But that would have taken extra police muscle, and, as we can see, the police are expected to subdue drunken rioters hurling stones with soothing words and kid gloves.

How the police doing their job is equivalent to Russian state officials beating up Mari activists, I am not quite sure. But, in Kosachev's mind, the Finno-Ugric World Congress was the place to remind the Estonian delegation that they were in Russia, an unfriendly country. Kosachev's United Russia ventriloquism was on display the day previously where he said that Ilves' speech to Finno-Ugric minorities was "incorrect" because he had mentioned the dreaded "i" word -- independence. Note to Ilves, next time make sure Russia corrects your speeches before hand.

In any other country, Kosachev would just be another annoying lawmaker. But the fact that he is accountable to one man only, and therefore must do the bidding of that one man, means that refusing to listen to the insinuations of Kosachev is the equivalent of refusing to listen to the insinuations of that one man.

Some people think that Estonia's Russian policies have failed because Estonia used the "i" word, or forgot to thank Russia for liberating its parliamentarians of the 1920s and 30s from their lives. But, please, let's be serious shall we. This is a show. It is a show where Estonians can earn the respect of their constituents by walking out of an assembly, and where unelected sycophants like Kosachev can earn brownie points from their all-powerful boss/bosses.

This is not something that matters like missile defense strategies or access to oil and gas reserves. This is a row about nothing. Really, think about it, what are the Estonians and Russians mad at each other about? Statues? History? Attitudes? Language requirements for civil service positions? Preambles to border treaties? And this impacts our daily lives how? Exactly. Just as Seinfeld was a show about nothing that managed to stay on the air for nine seasons, the Estonian-Russian crisis continues to pump out juicy headlines about ... nothing.

Everyone benefits and the only people it really hurts is the Estonian transit industry (to the benefit of Russian competitors) and the Estonian Russian minority, whose would-be perspectives are overshadowed by Russian meddling and Estonian obtuseness. Do they even have an opinion? Who cares! Let's argue about "fascism" and how prominently monuments are displayed in the capital cities of foreign countries. Ah, Christ. There's a good Monty Python sketch in here somewhere. I just know it.

10 kommentaari:

AndresS ütles ...

Sadly you are dead on. There is no real issue in the way of better relations, simply politics and egos.

Russia enjoys using Estonia (and Latvia, Georgia, Ukraine) as punching bags. It help the politicians back home look strong and making friends with Estonia doesn't really bring much benefit to them.

On the other side Estonian politicians have also fallen prey to the same problem, using the conflict to stir nationalistic ideals.

At some point we need to stop looking to the past and start looking to the future.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

Russia is like herpes.

Estonia has a bad case of Russia and it cannot be cured. Regular outbreaks of Russia can be cured, but they'll return.

And Russia, the diseased leper she is, is only enjoying being this effin zaraza of the world.

Why did the Tunguska meteorite fall into Siberia instead of Moscow? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_meteorite

Rainer ütles ...

"At some point we need to stop looking to the past and start looking to the future."

Sure, but that can only happen after Russia realizes that killing and deporting of tens of thousands of Estonians does actually outweigh a Ganin, "a Ganin" being a code name for a Russian-looter-most-probably-killed-by-another-looter-turned-martyr.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

By the way, Tunguska happened exactly 100 years ago today or for you folks over there 100 years ago yesterday.

Check it out.

Doris ütles ...

not "nationalstic", it's the "i"-word, as Justin said. Combined, perhaps, with the "fs" combination of Free Speech, or the idea of it, anyway. Independence is like air, you don't really notice it unless you don't have it any more. And not having it is kind of like being in prison your whole life in a bizarre 1984-world, where you can, perhaps, have friendly relationhips with other inmates but you never know which ones of them are "assistant guards", or in other words FSB-agents.

meh, probably paranoid. And in this context, it most definiely WAS nationalistic, seeing as it was a meeting of the Finno-Ugric nations, only 3 of which have that elusive Independence. But then, isn't it genocidal to suppress such nationalism? Where is the line between protesters and marauders? And what is your own "republic" worth if you aren't able to send your children to a school that teaches in your own language? In that sense, the Russians in Estonia definitely have more choice: choice to move to a country where Russian is the main language, but also choice to send their children to Russian schools... for how long still, I don't know, but I doubt that the situation of Russians in the Baltics will ever be or has ever been as bad as the situation of the Finno-Ugric people in Russia.

Kristopher ütles ...

I think of Mount Duma and I think of Tallinn as Minas Tirith.

I wanted to note that Ilves was allowed to leave the conference. He was not attacked physically. No one even tried to frame him for murder. I'd say it went pretty well, in the long view.

I still don't understand why Dave Matthews was there, and President Putin wasn't.

Katrin ütles ...

Government of the Russian Federation accuses us in Baltics as if we were exhorting fascism (national socialism). On what ground, I'd like to ask. Mr Kossachev has said, that the occupation of Baltic countries is a myth. He has also said, that Tartu peace treaty is not valid, while it was signed by criminal and illegal bolchevists, who had taken over the Russian Empire.

Funny to hear, because the Russian Federation claims to be a direct heir of the Soviet Union, declared to be an illegal formation by mr Kossachev.

Russian governments' illiteracy and worship of double standards knows no limits. The NASHI and Molodaja Gvardija, who have attacked opposition leaders, diplomats and immigrants (or people who look like immigrants) have governments' blessing. At the same time other movements, who scream out SAME ideas about Russian superiority and their own "souvereign truth" about the communist regime, WWII and mass killings - they are banned (see todays news in Kommersant).
Kossachev is a true Russian politician in that sense.

When there is a talk about obligations of the RF, the Soviet Union was an illegal formation. When they talk about RIGHTS - things tend to turn around 180 degrees. But as we all know, the history in the Soviet Union and in its heir has been and continues to be a really flexible thing and is designed according to the directions, given by the government.

OK. What I'm trying to say is - poor mr Kossachev and poor other tchinovniks. They waste so much time on us, blaming us of beeing fascists and doing terrible things with the glorious past of Russia. What the thing really is about is the fact that the Balts share a unique experience of surviving two totalitarian regimes. Having seen both of the faces of the same evil we learned to charice freedom of speech and ability of independent thinking. Orwell might have been proud, I think. He did not succeed in his task in "old" Europe - to open peoples' eyes to see the monster behind communist propaganda and sham, a monster we call totalitarism. What Orwell and Huxley warned us about was giving up the right of free thinking and turning into mindless cattle with a collective mind. Their ideas were opposed by majority of literary figures and politicians, while it was and is widely accepted to think of the communist regime as if it had been "better". They "won" WWII, after all! And nobody seems to care about those tens of millions of innocent inhabitants of the Soviet Union, who were killed, tortured and starved to death. It's uncomfortable to think about these things, it's much easier to think - nazi-bad, commi-good.

Mr Kossachev, don't you think that WE are on the right tracks, and you are underestimating the intelligence of your nation? Maybe they deserve a little respect too, those, who have survived Soviet Unions labor camps, NKVD/KGB tortures, whos relatives have been killed by NKVD/KGB or died in hunger. The only thing the Balts wont - if the crimes of two equally monstrous powers were condemned with equal rigourity. That's why we talk ad nauseam about democracy and human rights, you know. If it makes you nervous, it shows something is on your conscience...

My apologies - I tend to write too long comments.

Giustino ütles ...

Kosachev is an idiot. I hate using that word, but ... he really is. I feel bad for the Russian people that they have such losers for representatives.

Rainer ütles ...

A "useful idiot", no doubt.

Doris ütles ...

a powerful idiot

One of my mottos in life is "do whatever you want but be willing to pay the price". And therefore I tend to take it as a personal insult when people (in this case Russia as an entity) has done whatever they want but refuse to even acknolege that there IS a price.