Monday, December 31, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Estonia Becoming a Real Life Version of Aksyonov’s ‘Island of Crimea’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 31 – Estonia for someone “who writes in Russia appears to be the ideal country as an alternative place for living,” according to a Russian writer, and it is increasingly a haven for those being persecuted by the Russian regime, transforming that Baltic state into “the main émigré direction” of 2012.

            Writing on the portal, Oleg Kashin, notes that over the last twelve months, three prominent Russian activists have fled to Estonia: Savva Terentyev, who said in a blog post he would life to “burn” corrupt cops, Anataya Rybachenko, who has been threatened with jail for her role in last December’s Moscow protests, and Suren Gazaryan, an ecologist who has campaigned against the destruction of the environment in the North Caucasus (

            If Kashin is right, they and others like them appear to be taking advantage of a country much like the one Vasily Aksyonov described in “The Island of Crimea,” one in which Russians could live without the consequences of the communist regime, a possibly Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has alluded to ( ).

            This new emigration is attracting ever more international attention. On Friday, France 24 featured a program on about Russia’s “new political refugees” in Estonia.  It describes what drove each of these Russian citizens to flee and how they are doing in the country that has given them asylum (

            Asked by French journalists when they might be able to return home, Gazaryan said that “practically, maybe if Puin dies or suddenly shows his mercy and our charges are dropped in the first case.” Unfortunately, he continued, “both things are equally unlikely” and he believes he will be “out of Russia for a long time.”

            But Rybachenko is somewhat more optimistic: “Time is on our side: this regime is getting older and more decrepit.  I will certainly outlive it.”

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