Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Ethnic Russians in Estonia Protest Moscow’s Promotion of Separatism

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 15 – Moscow’s promotion of unrest and separatism in Estonia has prompted a group of ethnic Russians and other non-titular nations to start a petition drive in support of Estonia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemning such outside interference in Estonia’s domestic affairs.

            Despite its membership in the European Union and NATO and its success in integrating most ethnic Russians into its society and policy, Estonia nonetheless has remained in the crosshairs of the Kremlin’s expansive policies, and now not just Estonians but non-ethnic Estonians there are protesting that fact (news.err.ee/v/politics/6b73690d-77b8-4073-b942-7636c694e1d6).

            Natalja Kitam of Etnoweb, Jelena Katsuba of the Open Estonia Foundation, Igor Kalakauskas of the Tallinn Tõnismägi Science School and Ivan Lavrentjev of the Network of Estonian Non-Profit Organizations are circulating a petition entitled Memorandum 14 in support of Estonia and in opposition to Moscow’s statements and actions.

            The petition, posted on the petitsioon.ee site, declares that “the majority of local Russians wish[es] to resolve issues within the constitutional framework of the independent Republic of Estonia and condemn[s] separatist statements made in the name of the local Russian-speaking population.”

            More than 380 people have signed it, most of them alarmed by reports in a Moscow paper that Russian activists plan to stage demonstrations in Estonia to back Russia’s annexation of Crimea and possible annexation of other parts of Ukraine and to call for a separatist referendum in Estonia’s northeast.
            The full text of the petition is as follows:

We, signatories and Estonian residents - citizens of Estonia as well as other countries, and also permanent residents without a citizenship - watch the events in Ukraine with pain and concern.

We would like to say with all responsibility that our wish is to solve all the problems of Estonian society with the legal authorities of the Republic of Estonia. We do not need protecting from the outside; we think intervening with Estonian politics by third countries is unacceptable.

We do not support separatist feeling and statements made on the behalf of the Russian-speaking community of Estonia. All issues regarding the development of our society, including education, language and citizenship policies, must be resolved according to the principle of the sovereignty of the state.

Regardless of mother tongue and nationality, the majority of people living here consider Estonia their homeland. We think it is valuable that although we stand on separate sides of the ideological barrier, we consider it our duty to say collectively: our home is an independent and free Estonia!

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