Eesti Elu
New Russian history book (3)
Archived Articles 28 Aug 2009  Eesti Elu
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Packed with glaring mistakes and deliberate misinformation

“Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were not occupied in 1940, but rather were incorporated through the support of local communist party cadre and part of the local residents. This was not a Kremlin initiative, but the wish of the parliaments of the countries involved.”

The book deliberately avoids explaining that the three parliaments were stacked by Moscow-friendly communists by the Kremlin and that the Estonian government of the day had been forcibly removed and replaced by Soviet henchmen.

Such is the blatant twisting of fact in a book entitled “Russia and the Baltic Countries (II)”, authored by Renald Simonjan, the Russian Academy of Sciences director of the Russian-Baltic Centre and published by the Academy’s sociological and economic institute. The book, translated into English, is to be distributed to western universities.

In 2004, oddly enough, Simonjan was decorated with the Estonian presidential Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana IV Class for his “Russia and the Baltic Countries” Part I. At the time his treatment of the subject matter was considered objective and fair.

Part II contains outright mistakes that would have been easy to catch and correct. The name of Estonian president Konstantin Päts is spelt Pjats. Estonian historian Magnus Ilmjärv’s name and former Estonian communist party secretary Väino Väljas’ name is to be found spelled in many different versions.

It is astounding that the book was translated in Estonia. Valeria Jakobson, who commissioned the translator, stated that she corrected some of the most serious mistakes, but did not want to get involved in disputes over terminology.

Some mistakes are puzzling. According to the book, serious consideration was given to the idea of “giving” the Baltic States to Poland at the beginning of the 1920s. Who the “giver” would have been is left unclear.

“North-east Estonia’s population is 95% Russian, all of whom live in close proximity. This isn’t surprising. This part of Russia was given to Estonia through the Tartu Peace Treaty in 1920.” Wrong. This had always been considered part of the territory upon which Estonians were the indigenous people. The heavy influx of Russians into the region has occurred during the post World War II period of Soviet occupation, as part of Moscow’s plan to deliberately flood the country with non-Estonians under the guise of rapid industrialization.

Estonian academic Juhan Sillaste commented after reading the book: “The book is nothing but garbage. Even Russian place names have errors.” Having read the Russian version, he is convinced the English version has been changed. “Probably the author had to fulfill the Kremlin’s needs… It is difficult to decide who is more discredited – the Baltic states or the author.”

Needless to say the disregard for veracity and historical accuracy is a major factor in determining the state of relations between the Baltic states and Russia today.
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