Could this year’s seemingly intensified propaganda campaign from Moscow have some ulterior motivation? Russian historian Boriss Sokolov totally dismisses the relocation of a Soviet-era war memorial in Tallinn as a genuine inducement to protest a “fascist” action by the Estonian government.
Sokolov stresses that most Estonian citizens of Russian heritage vote for Estonian parties and seldom label Estonians as fascists. But now the Kremlin and Russian media under its control are actively sowing inter-cultural conflict to stop the process of Russian integration and create a “fifth column”. This is the candid perception of a Russian intellectual.
Probably equally vexing is the Council of Europe’s parliamentary Assembly (PACE) chairman Rene van der Linden’s promise to put the issue of “Estonian fascism” on the Council’s fall agenda. Marko Mihkelson, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Estonian parliament, has remarked that van der Linden has been co-opted by the Russian propaganda machine and that he is a typical example of a European politician who has been placed in a very uncomfortable position (by repeating trite propagandistic clichés amplified by Moscow – ed.). Is this pro-Russia stance motivated by van der Linden’s assorted family business interests in Moscow, Mihkelson asks?
It’s clear that Moscow desperately needs to win the ongoing historical debate on the questions of Moscow-Berlin axis (via the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) as co-aggressors at the start of World War II, the annexation of the Baltic states, the ensuing occupation and all other issues arising from these events.
The propaganda crusade got a boost from the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War II celebrations in Moscow on May 9, 2005, which the Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians identified as the anniversary of one occupation (German) being replaced by another (Soviet). Moscow’s voluble insistence that this once again proves the underlying fascist tendencies of the Baltic states.
Simultaneously they attempted to tag the Balts as anti-semites and drew parallels between Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltics and the liquidation of Jews by the Nazis.
Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet has indicated that the wild anti-Estonian accusations of Russian politicians are prompted by their need, at any price, to maintain Kremlin favour, especially prior to parliamentary elections. It’s a tried and true method of directing attention from domestic woes, in fact diverting international scrutiny from Russia’s growing fascist movements and organizations promoting inter-racial hatred.
“Russian leaders fully comprehend the neo-nazi initiatives in Russia, but instead of searching for solutions, they transfer the problem to others,” said Paet.
Should Russian harassment be a cause for serious worry? Thankfully sober heads in Estonia prevail. Observers note that hysterical reaction to relentless but oftentimes discreditable Kremlin propaganda harangues simply gives Russia more meat for the grinder.
Rational, calm promotion of Estonia’s near past will take time and persistence. Moscow wants to indoctrinate. Estonia needs to educate.
Should Estonia flinch at Russian harassment? (IV) (41)