laupäev, märts 14, 2009

knee deep

Is politics sport or comedy? If it's Estonian politics, I would have to vote for the latter.

It all started when Russian Ambassador Nikolai Uspenski, who bears an uncanny resemblence to Dr. Seus' Grinch Who Stole Christmas and who I suppose is only capable of smiling from behind the reflective windows of his country's embassy in Tallinn's old town, criticized the Estonian state's treatment of its linguistic Russophone minority.

His words were criticized in turn by Sergei Metlev, a 17-year old student in Tallinn who, according to the article before me, asked in response if teachers in Mari-El, a Finno-Ugric republic within the Russian Federation, could fulfill their duties without knowledge of the Russian language. Metlev is described as the head secretary of the Students Representative Assembly (Õpilasesinduse Assamblee) in the article.

Unsurprisingly, the story of the articulate teenage Estonian Russian versus the cranky Russian ambassador got people all fired up on the Internets. The Postimees story that carried Metlev's original comments drew 148 comments, but after Metlev's school controversially disciplined their outspoken student, 227 more commenters chimed in. Of course, the readers of Postimees' Russian edition also went bananas, registering 134 comments in one story concerning a statement from Tõnis Lukas, the Estonian Minister of Education. Another story about the affair drew 189 comments. And where there are fiery comments, dear readers, there is always more coverage of the controversy!!!

Because of this most recent flare up in the ongoing comedy show called Estonian-Russian relations, Uspenski had to dress his cute little dog Maksim up like a reindeer and sled over to Islandi Väljak for a little chat with his Estonian counterpart. I wonder what they talked about. Language Inspectorate? Treaty of Tartu? Päts' medals? Eurovision? Chelsea FC? For all of you who ever wonder about the integration debate in Estonia, the case of Metlev vs. Uspenski is exemplary. Attempt to discuss integration, wind up knee deep in media-fueled nonsense.

24 kommentaari:

Andres ütles ...

I don't think there was much "debating" going on in the first place. It went straight to blaming.

sjgelle ütles ...

Ma kuulsin , et Sa käisid vanal heal Inglismaal ja külastasid sugulasi.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

New York, Long Island, eller andre steder?
That could be the beginning of an interesting debate. What does Estonian and Russian language mean at the same place: education.

Sharon ütles ...

Hey, slightly OT, your poll thingy in the sidebar is asking which party I'd vote for if the elections were held nowish.

Having only recently discovered I was eligible to vote in any such election, I haven't a clue. Over here in the Antipodes, I don't have any real idea who these people are or what they stand for.

Is there a site that explains such things clearly and succinctly?

Giustino ütles ...

Ma kuulsin , et Sa käisid vanal heal Inglismaal ja külastasid sugulasi.

Jah, käisin küll, aga ma ei usu, et Nõbu Enn tahaks, et ma kirjutan temast minu blogis.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Sharon, try wikipedia:
link
navigating gives you a decent amount of info

Martasmimi ütles ...

RE:
Jens-Olaf ütles...
New York, Long Island, eller andre steder?
That could be the beginning of an interesting debate. What does Estonian and Russian language mean at the same place: education.

What is the question here?

Puu ütles ...

I think the term minority should be used in a larger, biosphere, world-wide sense. Compared to Russian, Estonian is a linguistic minority... and this will always be the case ( unless some hilarious alternate future occurs where suddenly Estonian overtakes English as the world's dominant language and hapukoor replaces coca cola)...

sjgelle ütles ...

Ma ei mõelnudki, et sa peaks sellest kirjutama.
Tore lugu oli Päevalehes, Sinu kirjutatud.

Inner monologue ütles ...

Rolling blackouts in Estonia?

http://www.tallinnapostimees.ee/?id=97078

Bad time for car radios I guess.

What next? Coupons for cooking oil?

Lingüista ütles ...

I'm curious about Giustino's claim that the press is actually fuelling this all (to get more hits / subscriptions I suppose? or just because it's fun to speculate about "deep offenses to the national pride" of both sides?)

Sergei Metlev's point is well taken -- Mari El is one of the best cases in Russia (in the sense that the Mari people are quite active and reasonably healthy as a community, despite being already a minority inside the borders of their titular republic). The Finno-Ugricness of their language is obvious (they say "ulan, ulat, ulo" to mean "olen, oled, on", and "ik, kok, kum, nyl, vich, kud" for "üks, kaks, kolm, neli, viis, kuus").

It is indeed interesting that a member of the Russian-speaking minority provided the answer. One wonders how his reaction was reported in Russia.

Rainer ütles ...

Is there an Off-Topic Comment Of the Year -contest going on here?

anesha ütles ...

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anesha ütles ...

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anesha ütles ...

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anesha ütles ...

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Rainer ütles ...

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Giustino ütles ...

I'm curious about Giustino's claim that the press is actually fuelling this all (to get more hits / subscriptions I suppose? or just because it's fun to speculate about "deep offenses to the national pride" of both sides?)

The press also makes celebrities out of individuals with marginal political views.

Look at the coverage they give Johan Bäckman, the Finnish "academic" who still claims the Bronze Soldier was destroyed.

I saw a news ticker on Päevaleht the other day. It read: "Important: Maksim Reva says ..." And then I stopped reading it. Because what Makism Reva or Dmitri Linter say is not important.

We've got plenty of screwballs in the US too. But every time the leader of some group issues a manifesto, that doesn't mean it gets splattered across the front page of the Washington Post.

The media should accurately reflect the larger discussions in society. The Estonian media though prefers to peddle in elevating the views of a very small group of individuals (we're talking about the same dozen people that go to Riga or Helsinki to agitate) to be almost equal with its top thinkers and public officials. A reality check is sometimes necessary.

Lingüista ütles ...

I suppose there's a theme to this madness -- the Estonian press will give coverage to fringe groups interested in Russian-Estonian relations and their problems (but not, I presume, to fringe religious groups or oddball kooks).

anesha ütles ...

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siiruviiruline ütles ...

If you would only have read the Russian media, they were furious. I actually met Sergei, he is pretty decent boy who claimed he is not interested in any party politics but is simply annoyed by Russian sate interfiering in Estonia's internal business. He spoke good Estonian, claiming he can't believe it is impossible to learn Estonian with 20 years and confirmed that stubborness goes both ways, and I just agreed.

Lingüista ütles ...

Siiruviiruline, I'm curious. What did the Russian media say about Sergei Metlev? Is he supposed to be a traitor in some sense? Or someone who is insensitive to the sufferings of the Russian minority? What's the claim? (Post a few links if you can; I can read Russian.)

plasma-jack ütles ...

According to sources available to me. Metlev was named a "Pavlik Morozov", a traitor and an idiot. Since my source is Estonian Kanal 2 (one of the most despicable examples of local trash journalism), I wouldn't trust this interpretation 100%, but I guess they didn't miss the spirit by much.

Melinda ütles ...

The sad situation of Russia is a real shame to the entire humankind, What the hell is this guy thinking ?

Melinda Robinson

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