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.