The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), representing one million Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian heritage, fully supports H. Res. 397, condemning the recent violence and attacks against Estonia and expressing solidarity with the government and people of Estonia.
JBANC supports Estonia’s decision to move the Bronze Soldier Soviet monument. The Bronze Soldier Soviet monument and the graves of a dozen soldiers in central Tallinn were not removed from view, or destroyed, but moved from a heavily trafficked urban area to a more appropriate location in a wartime cemetery in the Estonian capital. Those who want to honor the fallen Red Army soldiers can do so in a contemplative and respectful manner at this new site.
Every sovereign nation has the right to decide which monuments should stand in their countries and where they should stand. Russia itself has moved World War II memorials and graves, over protest, to make room for roads and other development.
In addition, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians did not view the Soviet Army as liberators, but as occupiers. It was the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact in August of 1939 that sealed the fate of the Baltic countries and committed them to the Soviet sphere of influence. In the next few months, the Red Army established bases in all three countries – a prelude to the occupation, which came in June of 1940, when large units of the Red Army poured into the Baltic countries. They were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, an illegal act never recognized by the U.S. government, which continued to observe the Baltic States de jure sovereignty.
Terrorism and mass deportations to Siberian death camps soon followed and were only interrupted by the start of the German-Soviet war on June 22, 1941. Then came the brutal Nazi occupation, which also brought the Holocaust to the Baltic countries. From the summer to the fall of 1944, the Red Army re-occupied the Baltic countries, after forcing out the Nazis, and re-instituted Soviet government control and repressions that continued until 1991. The negative view of the Red Army as liberators in the Baltic countries has to be considered in this context.
JBANC condemns the intimidation tactics that Russia has used against Estonia in recent weeks as well as the intimidation it has used against Poland and Lithuania. The unprecedented cyber attacks inflicted upon Estonia, which appear to have been orchestrated by the Kremlin, must stop.
Russia must accept accountability for its Soviet past if it wants to reconcile with its neighbors and to gain the respect of the Western democracies.
JBANC urges the Administration and U.S. Congress to support Estonia, its Baltic neighbors, and other East European countries against the continued intimidation, threats, and misinformation campaigns initiated by the Russian Government.
JBANC POSITION PAPER: MAY 23, 2007
U.S. must support Estonia and other targets of Russian aggression (2)