Archived Articles 25 Sep 2008  EWR
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International Press Release

Note: This press release appears exactly as written to provide context to the original concerns expressed in an open letter to leaders of the University of Helsinki signed by a group of Estonian and Finnish cultural figures, scientists, journalists and politician. Decide for yourself, informed reader.
EE Online

Dr. Johan Bäckman from the University of Helsinki has decided to take legal measures against individuals who wrote and signed the "open letter" send to various media and Bäckman's superiors at the University of Helsinki. Bäckman says the letter, which compares Dr. Bäckman with holocaust deniers, claims Bäckman is spreading propaganda against various national groups and says Bäckman should not teach at the university, is a reason for criminal proceedings according to the article 24-10 of the Finnish criminal code (grieve slander). Bäckman says the writers of the open letter are spreading false information about him and his new book "The Bronze Soldier" in order to cause him damage and to disturb his work because he has criticised Estonian politics. Bäckman says two Estonians living in Finland, Imbi Paju and Iivi Anna Masso, are behind the letter. In Bäckman's opinion, Paju and Masso are trying to spread Estonian Apartheid policy in Finland and to limit freedom of speech about Estonian history, for which reason Bäckman is also contacting the ambassador of Estonia in Helsinki Mrs. Merle Pajula.

In Bäckman's opinion, his book is only a comment about interpretations of history. He is also very worried about the future of Estonia, but the book does not contain a sentence claiming Estonia has only ten years left or that Estonia should join Russia. The book by Bäckman has been a subject of heated debate in Estonia already for three weeks.

The book "The Bronze Soldier" by Dr. Bäckman, presented in Tallinn in September 22th, is about different interpretations of history. Bäckman has quoted several Finnish and Estonian scholars and writers in order to construct a theory about "myth of Soviet occupation". Bäckman says that before him also the Finnish history professor Martti Turtola, the Estonian historian Magnus Ilmjärv and Finnish journalist Leena Hietanen have said that Estonia was not occupied by the Soviet Union. Dr. Bäckman is developing in his book the theory of "myth of Soviet occupation", first constructed by the Finnish journalist Leena Hietanen in her recent book "Estonia's cold war". Hietanen said the "myth of Soviet occupation" is racist propaganda against Russians, the aim of which is to legitimise the Estonian Apartheid policy by labeling Russians as untrustworthy "occupants". Dr. Bäckman however has identified the historical roots of the "myth of Soviet occupation", saying that it is a Nazi myth, which was first used by the Nazis in the 1930s in order to persecute Jews. Now the myth is being used by Estonian authorities in order to persecute Russians. Bäckman says, that the real purpose of the "myth of Soviet occupation" of Estonia is to legitimise the Apartheid policy of the country against Russians and dissidents.

Bäckman says the individuals who signed the "open letter" are trying to pressure the University of Helsinki to legalise the racist myth of occupation and spread the Estonian Apartheid policy in Finland. Bäckman finds it strange that the "open letter" demands punishments for individuals having certain interpretations about history. Bäckman says the "open letter" is a typical example of Soviet-style Stalinist campaign targeted at limiting his or any other individual's freedom of speech in issues regarding history interpretations. Bäckman says, that he does not teach Estonian history at the university, but his lectures are about the sociology of law and criminology.

Bäckman says the "open letter" and Estonian politics today resembles the Stalinist purges of 1937. Today Estonia is full of spy scandals, fear, gossips and show trials. Everybody is afraid of the secret police "Kapo", which is said to pressure people. Bäckman writes in his book, that the show trial against the Hero of the Soviet Union Arnold Meri, the show trial against Dmitri Klenski, Maxim Reva and Dmitri Linter, and the show trial against the Finn Risto Teinonen, are typical Stalinist show trials without legitimation. Bäckman also does not understand the public glorification of Nazi symbols in Estonia, such as in the last year birthday party of the minister of justice Rein Lang.

The book written by Dr. Johan Bäckman, "The Bronze Soldier", will be presented in Helsinki on Tuesday September 30th at 1 p.m. at the 4th floor of the Vltava restaurant, the Havana room, next to the Helsinki railway station. The publisher of the book is the secretary general of the Russia's writers' union Dr. Vladimir Ilyashevich, director of the publishing house "Tarbeinfo" in Estonia.
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